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Marital problems preceded apparent murder-suicide, daughter says

Marital problems preceded apparent murder-suicide, daughter says

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According to her oldest daughter, Michele Francis had finally had enough of her nearly 26-year marriage to Peter Francis Sr.

Last week, Michele Francis handed her husband separation papers, said 24-year-old Tiffini Amber Pietrzak on Tuesday morning.

But Peter Francis, 57, apparently chose a violent ending. Police allege that he shot and killed his 53-year-old wife before killing himself Saturday night at their home on Baldwin Drive in Cardinal Forest subdivision off U.S. 17 in Stafford County.

“My father took my mom’s life simply because she got tired of his abuse and had decided to leave him,” Pietrzak said via telephone from her home in Florida. “He’s been causing us pain our entire lives and now he’s caused pain that may never go away.”

Pietrzak said she wanted to talk about her parents’ murder–suicide in part because she’s hopeful it may help someone going through a similar experience. “People need to know they are not alone and perhaps it will encourage someone to take action before it’s too late,” she said.

Pietrzak said she is also hoping to drum up support to pay for her mother’s funeral and to help Pietrzak and her husband, Eric, support her 18-year-old brother and 15-year-old sister. Both are in high school and were residents in the Cardinal Forest home at the time of their parents’ death.

“I never imagined having two extra people to be responsible for,” Amber Pietrzak said. “We have enough on our plate with our own family, but I’m all they have left.”

Pietrzak said her father was a surgical technician at a Fredericksburg area hospital. A native of Jamaica, he and Michele Francis married in December 1994 and moved to Stafford in 2014 from Arizona, the older daughter said.

Pietrzak said her mother worked full time for a health care technology company and also worked two part-time jobs. She said her mother was the backbone of the family who handled nearly all of the responsibilities associated with her children and the family finances.

She said her father had a good reputation outside the household, but was a different person to his family. Pietrzak said she thinks he had mental health problems that were never addressed.

On their final night, Pietrzak said her brother was downstairs when he heard arguing and finally gunshots. He ran upstairs and saw his father in the bedroom closet. He ran out and called 911, and police found his mother dead, as well.

The younger sister was not home at the time. Pietrzak said she’d picked her up two weeks ago and took her back to Florida because of concerns about the toxic environment in the household. She said she tried to get her mother to leave, as well, but she did not.

The family’s GoFundMe page is gf.me/u/y65w3w.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

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