The death of a California mother and daughter was a murder-suicide, police said on Saturday. A ‘myriad of evidence’ led detectives in Pleasanton to the conclusion that Amy Freeman Burton shot dead her daughter Ainsley before turning to gun on herself. Burton’s husband, Christopher Burton, arrived home on the evening of May 7 to find his wife and step-daughter shot. Burton, 37, died of a gunshot wound before officers could reach the scene.
Ainsley was found alive and rushed to the Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, but she died later that night. Police remain uncertain about the mother’s motive for the deaths. Lt. Jeff Bretzing told Mercury News: ‘We still just don’t know. We have no concept of Amy Freeman Burton’s state of mind.’ Investigators believe the most likely possibility is that Burton was driven by paranoia about the Ainsley’s online relationship with a boy. They discovered messages and photos that Ainsley was swapping with a 16-year-old boy in Kentucky. And Burton’s husband said his wife had grown ‘paranoid’ about their teenager’s online communications with the boy. Mr Burton was initially a person of interest, as the only other person to live at the property. He moved to Pleasanton with his wife and step-daughter from Missouri in December.
Mrs Burton’s mother, Linda Walp, told the Contra Costa Times that her daughter had received death threats after reporting that a man connected to a child porn ring was trying to befriend Ainsley on the internet. According to police, however, there is no record of any such threats being reported. Autopsies were conducted on the bodies, ruling out the possibility of a double slaying, with physical and forensic evidence pointing to a murder-suicide. Detectives found two handguns in the house, including one near the dead mother and daughter. Walp said she was shocked to hear the slaying was a murder-suicide because the victims had a very good relationship. ‘Each one would have taken a bullet for the other,’ she the Times. She described Ainsley as ‘a straight-A student and a sweet, nice little girl.