Detectives: Mom slain in front of her children

May 16, 2010 8:57:45 PM PDT
A pregnant mom is dead, and investigators say she was shot and killed right in front of her young children.

Right now, deputies are piecing together her final moments, and her husband is being questioned following the shooting on Autumn Breeze in northwest Harris County.

Several people were up and some even outside when the shooting happened.

"Boom, boom, boom, boom. Four deliberate shots," said Les Saunders.

Saunders did not expect to hear gunshots from his backyard this morning.

"Quarter to 11 on a Sunday, you know, this is ridiculous," he said.

And he wasn't the only one who heard something.

Judy Harr and her husband were poolside then scrambled to hide in their kitchen when they heard noises coming from the other side of their fence.

"We heard her scream, 'Oh no,'" Harr said. "That's definitely what we heard, and then it was just terrifying screaming."

Within minutes, police say they arrived to find a 31-year-old woman dead on her driveway, under a carport. Her 37-year-old husband was nearby with an automatic handgun.

Neighbors say the woman was six and a half months pregnant with their fourth child. The other three children, ages 2, 4 and 8, were inside the house. But officers said their father brought them outside after the shooting.

Authorities say the doors to the family SUV were open when they got here.

"We don't know who was leaving -- whether she was leaving or wether he was leaving," Harris County Sgt. Curtis Brown said.

Deputies say it appears someone tried to move the body but didn't get far. Before the shooting, neighbors across the street tried to step in to help. But once they saw a gun, they retreated into their house.

"This is really, really sad," said Steve Hochanadel, a co-worker of the possible suspect, whose name is not yet being released.

Hochanadel said both of their families moved here from Denver in the last six months and work as petroleum engineers for the same oil and gas company.

"He's a solid engineer, very bright guy," Hochanadel said.

While Hochanadel says work is often stressful, the man police now have in custody. He adds has always been an active father and pleasant neighbor.

"I came out, the police were here, and I saw who they had, and I was pretty upset about it -- the whole thing," Hochanadel said.

Also upset are neighbors along this street; they wonder why anyone would want to kill an expecting mother so violently.

"Causes you to wonder if you could've done something different to help," neighbor Robert Harr said.

The medical examiner's office took the woman's body to perform an autopsy, and CPS, along with a school nurse, have been staying with the children at neighbors' homes.

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