Mother of twins murdered by estranged husband addresses mental health issues

Posted at 7:20 PM, Nov 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-26 19:20:39-05

Virginia’s mental health system faces a shakeup in wake of the tragic stabbing involving State Senator Creigh Deeds.

Governor McDonnell told WTOP radio on Tuesday morning that he’s making preliminary recommendations for the upcoming two-year budget and will announce his recommendations next week.

Deeds was stabbed multiple times last Tuesday by his 24-year-old son, who Deeds had sought to have committed to a mental health facility just hours earlier, but was denied because the emergency custody timeline ran out.

The family’s painful ordeal, brings back terrible memories for a Hanover County mother, whose three-year-old twin daughters were murdered by their father in January 2012.

Kristi Hooper believes her daughters, Caroline and Madison, would still be alive if the court system had not failed to order an emergency psychiatric evaluation of her estranged husband in time.

“I just hope in light of these events, that  something can happen,” Hooper says.  “It’s a shame it’s taken so long.”

Just hours before killing his daughters, Robert King bought the girls each a fish, signed them up for dance lessons and  gave them a bath.  Earlier that day, he had also hugged his estranged wife when he picked up the girls from her house and apologized for his behavior.

But by 6 o’clock that evening, Hooper says King snapped and began sending her text messages telling her she was a terrible mother.

King funneled exhaust fumes into a bedroom that night and slit both of his daughters’ throats, just moments before taking his own life.

“It’s a constant pain, every cell of your body hurts all the time,” Hooper says.

In the months leading up to her daughters’ murders, Hooper says King’s behavior grew increasingly erratic.  In December 2011, Hooper says she begged a court appointed mediator and a guardian ad litem to order an emergency psychiatric evaluation of her husband, who had custody of the girls on the weekends.

Despite her pleas for immediate help, Hooper says she was told an evaluation couldn’t take place until February or March, at the earliest.

King murdered his daughters in late January.

“As soon as we met with the guardian ad litem in December, she ordered the psych evaluations, but she was busy and didn’t have time to do the home visits, and those were never scheduled,” Hooper says.

Nearly two years later, Hooper says she struggles with grief but hopes to become an outspoken advocate for change to Virginia’s mental health laws.

While Hooper’s situation is different from that of the Deed’s family, in that Hooper’s case was already in the court system, Hooper believes both tragic stories are similar in that their pleas for help weren’t taken seriously enough by the authorities in charge.

“There are two reasons I live,” Hooper says.  “One of for my son, and one is to save the other children.”