Deaths ruled murder-suicide
Coroner: Sons had painkillers in their system before being shot by their mother.
Two young boys had powerful painkillers and a sleep-inducing antihistamine in their blood when they and their mother were found dead in a minivan parked behind a shuttered Lone Tree store last month in what has been ruled a murder-suicide.
The Douglas County Coroner’s Office said Friday that Jennifer Marie Laber, 38, died from a selfinflicted gunshot to her head and that 3-year-old Adam and 5-yearold Ethan both were shot in the neck.
The three were found dead Nov. 30 in the secluded loading-dock area of a vacant Sports Authority store as law enforcement from across the metro area searched for them.
Ethan and Adam had the opioids oxycodone and oxymorphone in their blood, according to their autopsies. They also had diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that commonly comes in the form of Benadryl and causes drowsiness, in their system.
The autopsies say the boys — whose deaths have been ruled homicides — were found in car seats. When Adam’s body was brought to the coroner’s office, it was accompanied by a stuffed animal and an open bag of gummy-bear candy.
Laber had the anti-depressants bupropion and desmethylvenlafaxine in her blood, as well as lamotrigine, a medication used to treat bipolar disorder and seizures, according to her autopsy.
Authorities say Laber legally purchased a Glock 9mm handgun at a local store about 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 29 before going to pick up her son an hour earlier than normal dismissal time from his kindergarten class. Laber’s husband, Ryan, reported the three missing that night. The bodies of Laber and the children were found early the next morning.
The deaths shocked the Labers’ neighbors in Highlands Ranch, who recalled Jennifer as a committed mother who was always flanked by her children.
At a vigil after the deaths, Ryan Laber told those gathered that his wife battled deep depression.
In a post Thursday night on a Facebook page remembering his wife and sons, Ryan Laber said Jennifer had left a note discussing her depressed state and how, despite having lost 80 pounds, she still felt self-conscious.
“It’s first critical to know Jennifer Krannich Laber had a deep depressed episode,” he wrote. “We don’t know what triggered it, nor did any of those close to her see it coming. From her history, previous episodes involved very low self-esteem, no recognition of consequences to self harm, and a strong desire to escape.
“Depression,” he wrote, “is coercive and often operates in silence. There is no fault to lay blame.”