A Virginia husband shot dead his wife of more than two decades after she reportedly approached him with separation papers in an apparent murder-suicide, authorities said.
The unexpected tragedy happened at 10.01pm on Halloween night in Stafford County, where the Francis family lived in a residence on Baldwin Drive.
Deputies arrived to the residence after they received a report of two gunshots sounding from the couple’s upstairs bedroom.
Authorities said that Michele Francis (front right) was shot dead by her husband of 26 years, Peter Francis, on Halloween night in Virginia. Pictured: Michele Francis and her three children and loved ones
Authorities discovered Michele Francis (pictured) and Peter Francis inside the master bedroom with single gunshot wounds
Once inside, they discovered Peter Francis, 57, and his wife, Michele Francis, 53, dead inside the master bedroom. Both sustained a single gunshot wound.
‘The initial investigation indicates Peter Francis Sr. shot his wife, Michele ‘Mikki’ Francis, before killing himself,’ a statement said.
An investigation into the murder-suicide is still underway, but Michele’s oldest daughter said the tragedy was about separation papers.
‘My father took my mom’s life simply because she got tired of his abuse and had decided to leave him,’ Tiffini Amber Pietrzak, 24, told The Free Lance-Star.
‘He’s been causing us pain our entire lives and now he’s caused pain that may never go away.’
Michele Francis (left) leaves behind her oldest daughter, Tiffini Amber Pietrzak (right), an 18-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter (center)
Peter and Michele had been married for 26 years at the time of the incident. They had three children, including an 18-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter.
Both siblings are in high school and were residents of the Francis’ Stafford County home.
‘I never imagined having two extra people to be responsible for,’ Pietrzak told The Free Lance-Star.
‘We have enough on our plate with our own family, but I’m all they have left.’
Pietrzak described her mother as the backbone of their family. Michele worked full-time for a health care technology company and held two part-time jobs on the side.
Michele managed almost all of the responsibilities with the children and finances.
Peter, according to Pietrzak, was a surgical technician originally from Jamaica. She said her father was respected outside the home, but was a different man inside.
Pietrzak told The Free Lance-Star that she believed her father suffered from mental health problems that were never treated.
Michele Francis (center), pictured with two of her children, was described as the backbone of the Francis family
Pictured: Tiffini Amber Pietrzak (left) and Michele Francis smiling together before the mother-of-three was killed on Halloween night
Pietrzak: ‘People need to know they are not alone and perhaps it will encourage someone to take action before it’s too late.’ Pictured: Michele Francis
On Halloween night, Pietrzak revealed that her young brother was downstairs when he heard his parents arguing and then two gunshots.
He discovered both his father deceased in a bedroom closet before desperately calling 911.
The youngest sister was not home at the time and was in Florida with Pietrzak. Pietrzak had brought the child down south two weeks ago over concerns of a toxic home environment.
She added that she asked her mother to leave, but Michele stayed in Virginia.
‘People need to know they are not alone and perhaps it will encourage someone to take action before it’s too late,’ said Pietrzak.
A GoFundMe was created this week to help cover funeral costs and raising the two youngest Francis children.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). All calls are anonymous, confidential and available 24/7.