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Jefferson County mother kills herself, after shooting her 11-year-old son

BARNHART, MO - “To say it was a gruesome scene is probably putting it mildly,” Sgt. Brain Taylor said.

Traumatic – that’s how Sergeant Brian Taylor describes the moment walking into this home and seeing 49-year-old Tara Kelleher and her 11-year-old son with gunshots to the head.

The sergeant says his deputies arrived after the woman’s fiancée heard the gunshots.

“His initial reaction was to reach for the girl but she wasn’t in the bed,” he said. “So, he said I’ll go look for her around the house and when he opened the door he found both of them lying there on the bedroom floor.”

Taylor said the fiancée found the pair shot in the head with a semi-automatic gun nearby.

Investigators determined the mom shot her son then took her own life.

She was pronounced dead later at a hospital, while her son is at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital clinging to life.

“Without getting too graphic, these were very traumatic injuries,” the sergeant said. “These were not grazing wounds these were significant even by first glances from us we knew they were life-threatening injuries.”

The family had only been living in the home on the 7200 block of Valley Drive for a couple of months.

For 6 hours investigators scoured the scene searching for a motive, but they only found some unusual text messages Kelleher sent to her other son.

With word of the attempted murder-suicide going around town, neighbors say they are stunned.

“It’s a tragedy,” neighbor Cory Lewis said. “We were shocked! We went to leave to go to church and we saw all the police vehicles. When we heard what happened, it’s sad!”