Expert says more than just PTSD behind murder-suicide that killed family of four
Police say Brad Hettinger killed his wife and two children, then started fires in their home near Jeffersontown before killing himself.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Relatives say post traumatic stress disorder is partially to blame for Sunday's murder-suicide that claimed an entire family.
Dr. Erik Goodwyn, a psychiatrist with University of Louisville Physicians, said the actions were so violent, they had to be attributed to more than just PTSD.
“PTSD in and of itself is typically not anywhere near enough to cause that level of violence,” Goodwyn said.
Louisville Metro Police say on Sunday Brad Hettinger, an Army veteran, shot and killed his wife Billie Joe Hettinger and their two young children Courtney and Collin.
“It was almost a perfect family and for this to happen, we may never know why,” said neighbor Melissa Halfhill.
Detectives say Brad started fires in their eastern Jefferson County home near Jeffersontown before shooting and killing himself.
The Hettinger family released a statement Wednesday saying in part Brad was, “an honorable, respectable, family-centered man who believed strongly in his religious values, who served his country with valor… Before the events of March 20th, Brad was actively seeking help for complications associated with PTSD while simultaneously attending marriage counseling with his wife.”
Having worked with many veterans suffering with PTSD, Goodwyn said the disorder often makes its victims want to harm themselves, but not those they love.
“It takes an awful lot of rage to do that, too. You know so it makes me wonder again, what else was going on there that would make him want to unleash so much fury on his family,” Goodwyn said.
He added not getting the right help with PTSD and facing other problems in life like medical, family or financial issues can snowball into something bigger.
“The problem is that the rates of PTSD and suicides keep going up,” Goodwyn said.
According to a study done by the Department of Veteran Affairs in 2012, 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
Just ten months ago in Hardin County, police said Fort Knox soldier John Jonas shot and killed his 11-year-old daughter Tasha Jonas before killing himself.
“The VA has a huge job ahead of it,” said Goodwyn. “I'm glad I'm not in charge of that because that's a tough job. It really is.”
If you want help or you know a veteran who needs help, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or send a text to 838255. More information can be found here.
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