Mother with mental illness shoots four adopted children dead before turning the gun on herself
Authorities are baffled about what motivated 58-year-old Cynthia Collier to kill her four children and herself this past October
Details are beginning to emerge in the horrific murder-suicide that claimed the lives of a mother and her four adoptive children at their $1 million residence at the 1000 block of Carters Creek Pike in Columbia, Tennessee, in October. A newly-released autopsy report stated that the mother, 58-year-old Cynthia Collier, shot and killed 14-year-old Bo Li, 14-year-old Meigan Lin, 15-year-old Lia Lin, and 17-year-old Kaileigh Lin, before shooting herself in the head.
According to the Tennessean, the autopsy by Davidson County Senior Associate Medical Examiner David Zimmerman revealed that the four children — who Cynthia and her estranged husband Randall Collier had adopted from China between 2003 and 2008 — had died of multiple gunshot wounds while the mother had died of a single gunshot wound.
Kaleigh was found fatally shot on the floor of a bathroom in the home while the other three were discovered lying on a bed. The toxicology reports for all five family members also showed that none had drugs or alcohol in their systems at the time of their deaths.
While Cynthia had experienced trouble in her marriage, Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland said that the teens had been a part of a loving home. The 58-year-old had married Randall when she was 19 back in 1982, and the two had stayed together until they separated in 2007. Randall then moved out of their home in 2009 and the pair began divorce proceedings this past March, though they would later put it on hold after deciding to reconcile.
The couple shared three biological children together — two sons and a daughter — and decided they would adopt Bo, Meigan, Lia, and Kaileigh in the mid-2000s. When they separated, all four children submitted statements saying they wanted to continue living with Cynthia because they did not know their adoptive father very well, with even their biological children suggesting that their relationship with Randall was strained.
The bodies of all five family members were found at around 6 pm on October 15 by one of Cynthia's biological sons who also lived at the same residence. He alerted the police who reportedly found two firearms at the scene. "We deal with carnage," he said about the gruesome murder-suicide, adding, "The magnitude of this... It was more than what we're used to on a day-to-day basis."
The authorities are still unclear on what may have promoted the 58-year-old to take such a drastic step, with the sheriff's department having no record of any service calls to the house. But Rowland did reveal they had reason to believe the mother was struggling with mental illness.