Man who lost wife, children in murder-suicide opens up about tragedy to talk about mental health

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – It's been more than six years since Cathy Murch shot and killed herself and two children in their Glendale home on the morning of July 30, 2012.

Her husband, Mitch Murch, heard the shots and found the bodies of his wife and kids: 8-year-old Mary Claire and 10-year-old Mitchell.

Cathy was suffering from depression and bipolar disorder and had attempted suicide three times in her life.

“They were just awesome, remarkable, smart, funny kids; awesome, awesome kids,” Mitch said.

Murch said he was sitting in his den reading the paper. He heard a loud noise. Moments later, two more "explosion" like noises, then what sounded like a suitcase being thrown down the stairs. He ran to look out his front window but didn’t see anything.

Murch heard two more bang noises then ran back to the kitchen and saw Cathy on the ground with a gun lying next to her. He also saw his saw his son sitting on the floor of the den, his eyes open but fading. Mitch called 911 and tried CPR. Mary Claire had been shot once and Mitchell three times as he tried to run from his mom.

Cathy shot herself once.

Mitch Murch said he couldn’t imagine his wife would ever get to the point she did.

“I worried about her every day. If she was well; it was something that was there,” he said. “I never thought she would do anything to hurt the kids.”

Murch, police, and therapists don’t know why Cathy left him alone that day. Typically, a spouse is the first person harmed in a murder-suicide scenario. However, Cathy left Mitch with a lifetime of heartache and unimaginable grief.

“They say time heals all wounds. I haven’t experienced that yet. I don’t know if I ever will,” he said.

By the grace of God and his faith, the community, as well as his family and friends, Mitch said he has learned to live again and forgive Cathy. He said he hopes his story can bring more awareness to recognizing mental illness and doing what it takes to make sure people are treated properly.

“It’s ok to ask someone if they are contemplating suicide and get them talking. And direct them to help,” he said.

Murch said Cathy, who was 42, bought a gun and carried out her plan because she didn’t stay on her medications. She said the side effects made her feel "jittery and dull.” With 1 in 5 people affected by some kind of mental illness, Mitch wants to encourage everyone to be aware.

“The good news is we don’t have to be experts in this. We can be a source and direct them to people who are experts,” he said.

A memorial honoring the lives of Mary Claire, Mitchell, and Cathy was set up at Mary Queen of Peace Elementary School in Webster Groves where the kids attended school and church.

Murch said there is no doubt he has two angels looking out for him.

“They have shown me signs and I know they are unmistakable signs that they are with me,” he said. “They are looking out for me. They are at the eternal banquet and they want me to be well.”

Murch remarried about a year ago and also switched careers, opening an insurance office in Kirkwood. And while he said the pain hasn’t gone away, it’s also his connection to the kids.