Sara McMeen, a mother-of-three from the small farm town of Emington, Illinois, who murdered her children and her boyfriend Daniel Warren, killed herself in front of horrified neighbors.
Daniel Warren, 29, 10-months-old Maggie, Skyler, 8, and Ian, 7 were the victims of the horrible murder-suicide.
A witness described the horrible moment Sara McMeen, 30, placed Maggie, her infant girl, on the ground, wrapped her in a blanket and shot her at point blank range with a semi-automatic pistol.
Sara McMeen had apparently already gunned down her boyfriend Daniel Warren and her two other children.
The neighbor ran for help and when she came back, Sara McMeen was dead, as well, after turning the gun on herself.
Authorities have given no clue what could have led the mother of three to massacre her family.
Sara McMeen’s mother Cynthia, who is a school bus driver in a town 12 miles north of Emington, issued a statement asking for privacy as the family copes with the deaths:
“The family grieves over the loss of their loved ones. They realize this (tragic) incident affects not only their family, but other families as well. The family is drawing together during this time, relying on God, and grieving. They would ask for your prayers for all the families involved and would like their privacy to be honored.”
The neighbor who witnessed the shooting told the Pontiac Daily Leader she walked outside when she heard the gunshots and saw Sara McMeen wrap her infant daughter in a blanket on the ground in the backyard of her home.
When the neighbor asked if she was alright, Sara McMeen responded: “No, everything is not OK,” then bent down and shot the baby at point-blank range.
Authorities did not confirm the Daily Leader’s report, but said have hinted the shooter was one of the dead family members.
The shootings occurred at a house in Emington, Illinois, a town of just 100 people, where Skyler and Ian Lemke, the two older children, were seen getting off a school bus just before they were killed.
“They were happy because it was the last day of school before Christmas break,” neighbor Ronald Groetsema said.
Ronald Groetsema lives near the home where the family was found and said he heard six to eight gunshots, then he heard a second round of four to six shots a few minutes later.
Neighbors reported seeing the school children playing in the backyard moments before they were gunned down.
The family had moved to the town of about 100 people about 80 miles southwest of Chicago this summer and the two older children attend school in nearby Saunemin.
The street where the family lived was closed off by police.
Livingston County Sheriff Martin Meredith said first responders found the bodies after Livingston County dispatchers received a call on Friday afternoon.
“We did have an awful disaster here,” said Emington Mayor Daniel Delaney, who’s been in office for 24 years.
“You never would have thought it would happen in our town of 100 people or less. It’s very sad. There were helicopters flying over earlier. Right now it’s just very, very, very sad for us here.”
Mayor Daniel Delaney said the town is not prosperous and has received help from the state.
Emington has a post office that’s been targeted for closure and just a handful of small businesses – a grain elevator, a dog groomer and a small beauty salon.
The town, Livingston County Board member Bob Young said, had never experienced anything like Friday’s shootings.
“I’ve lived here all my life. I guess, 60, 70 years ago we had a bank robbery, was the other big thing, but otherwise, nothing like this,” he said.