AUSTIN, Texas - There’s a renewed push to discuss domestic violence, suicide, and mental health after a double murder-suicide rocked a quiet southeast Austin neighborhood.
The statistics are staggering here in Texas when it comes to how many people are killed by family members every year, and a wife and child in Austin are now the latest victims of this troubling trend.
Officers found the bodies of Jennifer and Darius Robertson – along with their six-year-old son James – inside their house on Abby Ann Lane late Monday night. Authorities say Darius shot and killed his wife and young son before turning the gun on himself.
Not only does this mark Austin’s 70th and 71st homicides of the year, a record high in the city, it’s also among the growing number of domestic violence killings across the state.
Experts say the isolation of the pandemic, as well as a lack of enforcement of laws to take guns away from people with certain convictions, have largely fueled the increase.
"One of the things that we're very concerned about is the alarming increase in the number of Texans killed by a partner with a firearm," Mikisha Hooper, Texas Council On Family Violence, said. "In the last 10 years, the number of women killed by their intimate partner has nearly doubled."
In the year 2020 alone, 228 Texans were killed by their current or former intimate partner in 2020. 184 of those victims were women. That is a 23 percent increase from 2019.
"Know that it could happen to anybody, it doesn’t discriminate it happens in all areas, ethnicities, in all genders so just be more open about it," Kindel Jenkins, a family law attorney, said.
Considering recent changes in how non-emergency calls are handled, Chief Joe Chacon makes clear that officers and victim service counselors will still respond to all domestic violence calls.
"If you are a victim of domestic violence, regardless of the time frame, whether it's happening now or has happened in the past," Chacon said. "A call to 9-1-1 would be appropriate so that APD can respond in person."
If you are in an abusive situation and need help, you can head to SafeAustin.Org or call 512-267-SAFE. If you or someone you know is thinking about harming themselves, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. Both of those resources are available 24/7.
WHAT HAPPENED ON ABBY ANN LANE?
Officers were called to Abby Ann Lane near Deer Chase Trail around 11:15 p.m. on October 18 after a family member called police about a person who lives at that home whom they hadn’t heard from. Officers knocked on the door and there was no answer, but after checking the home they saw someone inside who was unresponsive on the floor.
Police forced entry into the home. Inside, officers discovered the bodies of Jennifer Robertson, 36, and her six-year-old son James. Both victims sustained fatal gunshot wounds.
The body of 36-year-old Darius Robertson was also discovered in the home with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"The exact timeline we do not know but the call originated from concerned family members who had not heard from one of their loved ones, so we don’t know what time anything occurred. That’s again why it’s important anyone who lives in this area please contact us so we can try to piece together what happened out here," said Officer Michael Bullock with APD.
Detectives are asking anyone with information or video of the incident to call APD Homicide at 512-974-TIPS, email firstname.lastname@example.org, utilize the Crime Stoppers tip line at 512-472-8477 (TIPS), or the Crime Stoppers app. You may remain anonymous. Information leading to an arrest may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. You can also submit tips by downloading APD’s mobile app, Austin PD, free on iPhone and Android.