Sometimes a look back at history can remind us that that there is nothing new under the sun.
We often make the mistake of assuming that murder-suicides in response to a divorce are a new phenomena. They aren't. Even when legal divorce was very difficult and women's rights were few, battered women would flee the marital home because of "domestic difficulties." Then as now, batterers struck out violently in retaliation.
Case in point: Father WILLIAM RILEY. After his wife left him and returned to "her father's house" (where else could she go in 1885?) because of the aforementioned "domestic difficulties," Riley kidnapped their little girl. The mother struggled with the authorities to get the child back. On the day the father was finally to appear in court, it was discovered that the father had cut the child's throat and then his own. Both were dead.
Interesting that other people heard the father threaten "that there would be two or three less people in the world" unless his wife returned to him, but no one believed him. This, unfortunately, hasn't changed since 1885 either.
From the archives of the New York Times, May 27, 1885.
MURDER FOLLOWED BY SUICIDE
CUTTING HIS CHILD'S THROAT AND THEN HIS OWN.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., May 26. --Shelbyville was startled this morning by the report of a child murder and suicide of a peculiarly distressful nature, which took place last night in the vicinity of Manilla, a town on the Jeffersonville, Madison and Indianapolis Railroad, in the western edge of Rush County. William Riley, recently a resident of Indianapolis, separated from his wife two months ago on account of domestic difficulties, and she returned to her father's house, near Manilla, taking with her their little daughter, Bertie, 7 or 8 years old. Riley also returned to this neighborhood and had obtained employment with John Holbrook, two miles from where his wife lived. A short time ago, while on a visit to the child, he managed to kidnap her. Mrs. Riley vainly endeavored to recover the child, and finally obtained a warrant for her possession. This was to have been served and the matter brought to trial to-day. Last night, Riley retired to bed, taking the child with him. Nothing unusual was noticed in his actions and no noise was heard during the night by the occupants of the room adjoining. This morning Riley did not appear at breakfast time, and when a member of the family went to call him a ghastly sight was revealed. Some time during the night Riley cut the child's throat and then his own. He had been heard to threaten that if his wife persisted in remaining separated from him there would be two or three less people in the world, but no one anticipated that he would carry out his threat. Riley was about 35 years old.