Autopsy: Highlands Ranch boys killed by own mother in murder-suicide had painkillers in systems

Posted at 1:13 PM, Dec 23, 2016

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. – The death of a woman and her two young sons found with gunshot wounds inside a van in a Lone Tree parking lot last month has officially been declared a murder-suicide.

The designation was made by Douglas County Coroner Jill Romann, who determined Adam and Ethan Laber died of homicide by gunshot wounds and their mother, Jennifer Laber, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The autopsy for each also confirms that the boys were heavily drugged before their mother killed them, which their father hinted at in a Facebook post Thursday discussing his late wife’s depression.

Both boys had evidence of oxycodone, oxymorphone and diphenhydramine in their blood. The first two listed are potent narcotic painkillers, and diphenhydramine is better known by its brand name, Benadryl.

In the Thursday Facebook post, Ryan Laber wrote that his sons were in a “deep sleep” when they were killed.

The autopsy also confirmed Jennifer had a slew of health problems, was taking medication and had a history of depression. She had undergone weight loss surgery months before her death, which her husband said ended up furthering her depression because of the saggy skin left over.

Ryan also said that she was a “tremendous” mom, but her motherhood “turned into her greatest source of pain” and said that the only way she thought her pain could be resolved was in heaven.

“Going to heaven was just a next step to her,” he wrote. “So as an act to insure [sic] she could provide the best motherhood to her boys, she took them with, painlessly, while they were under a deep sleep.”

“Depression is a sickness,” Ryan wrote. “It is coercive and often operates in silence. There is no fault to lay blame.”

Editor's note: This story has been changed to clarify that diphenhydramine is not a painkiller.


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