A Kentucky grandmother allegedly shot her 14-year-old granddaughter to death on March 12, before turning the gun on herself. Her family says that the shooter was overstressed with …
A Kentucky grandmother allegedly shot her 14-year-old granddaughter to death on March 12, before turning the gun on herself. Her family says that the shooter was overstressed with caring for her two grandchildren when the incident occurred.
“She was exhausted,”Julia Cash-Owens’ daughter-in-law, Chanda Fowler, said to The Washington Post. “She was doing so much, and it’s just unfair for her to be characterized as a murderer.”
Cash-Owens, 58, who obtained a degree in juvenile justice and was employed for years as a social worker, is accused of shooting and killing her granddaughter, Aurelia Castillo, who has a severe form of cerebral palsy. She then shot herself, causing fatal injuries.
Aurelia was diagnosed with CP at birth. She was unable to talk and had a service dog for her frequent seizures. She used a wheelchair for transportation.
The incident occurred at Cash-Owens’ residence on Hunting Hills Drive in Shelbyville, Kentucky, where she lived with her granddaughters Aurelia and Samantha. Both Cash-Owens and Aurelia were dead when police arrived to the scene.
Family members told The Washington Post that for months they worried about Cash-Owens, as it seemed she was juggling too many responsibilities at once.
Fowler also allegedly insinuated that the two children were growing up in a “troubled home,” but the statement hasn’t been substantiated by authorities.
Fowler said that the grandmother moved to San Antonio, Texas, with the grandchildren a few years back, but apparently the situation didn’t work out. Cash-Owens and the grandkids returned to Kentucky and moved into the Shelbyville home around a year later, but Fowler said she thought that Cash-Owens’ had too much on her plate with the two children.
The grandmother, however, reportedly insisted all was fine, even posting positive updates about her grandchildren on social media.
“It’s like being able to turn your phone off. Or it’s getting to take a one-hour nap,” Chanda Fowler said. “We begged her to bring the children here, but it was very hard. Even when that would happen, she couldn’t relax because she was so scared that something was going to happen.”
“My mother spent her entire life helping underprivileged children,” Cash-Owens’ son, Adam Fowler said. “She retired and took care of her mother and grandchildren.”
She spent everyday caring for my niece, Aurelia, who had severe cerebral palsy. She also was raising my nephew, w/special needs. This is also the same woman who went to bed hungry when I was younger so her kids could eat. I’m so heartbroken that this has occurred.”
Despite the family’s insistence that the grandmother was burned out and needed help, the motive, at least according to authorities, remains unclear. Fowler said Cash-Owens made sure that to the outside world her life appeared in order.
Experts suggested that the grandmother was likely going through “caregiver burn out” and didn’t think she had anywhere to turn. According to WebMD, caregiver is a serious medical condition that should be taken seriously. Often, there are warning signs that people who know the caregiver should observe, including:
- Changes in weight, appetite
- Exhaustion, both mentally and physically
- Sleep pattern changes
- Feeling sick more often than usual
It’s important for loved ones to have as much open communication as possible with caregivers, because, as seen in Cash-Owens’ case, they may appear fine outwardly. Some caregivers may not want to burden family, while others may be afraid something will happen if they aren’t constantly looking out for the disabled family member.
Aside from asking family to help, there are other options available to caregivers that perhaps Cash-Owens didn’t know about, or simply didn’t utilize.
Respite care is a form of temporary care in which caregivers with special needs children (or adults) are offered a short-term break from their caregiving duties. Respite care take place in a number of places including the caregiver’s home, the licensed home of a provider, medical and rehabilitation centers, group homes, and camps.
Respite care providers are generally licensed medical professionals with in-depth training on how to care for people with cerebral palsy and other disorders and special needs.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with providing care for a child or adult with cerebral palsy, respite care may be an option. Click here for more information.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available for 24 hours a day for anyone contemplating harming themselves. The lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255.