By Matthew Mitchell and Muzna Siddiqi
The triple-murder suicide that shocked a quiet east Scarborough street earlier this month may have been the grisly result of depression, says a local psychologist.
Keith Delong, 66, reportedly stabbed his wife Wanda, his son Richard, and his daughter Elizabeth Tompkins to death before shooting himself in the head last week, police said.
Dr. David Nussbaum, a psychologist at the University of Toronto Scarborough, says these types of acts are often committed by people who feel helpless.
“He probably felt hopeless for the future,” Nussbaum says. “He could not see things getting better, he could only see things getting worse.”
According to several media reports, the Delongs were under financial stress — Keith had retired from IBM, and they had recently re-mortgaged their house. The couple was supposed to catch a flight to Mexico the morning they died, to visit Wanda’s sick mother.
In cases like this, Nussbaum says the husband or father often feels they have lost their identity as a provider. They lose hope that the family can have a successful future.
Keith may have been under other stress. His son had a bone disorder, and had undergone surgery to correct the structure of his jaw.
“The father may have thought, ‘Well, he’s never going to get any better, and this is as good as it’s going to get.'”
Delong also killed the family dog.
Nussbaum gave an example of what Keith’s thought process might have been when he ended the dog’s life.
“‘Well, if we’re going to go, the dog is going to starve to death because the world is a lousy place and no one is going to look after it,'” Nussbaum says.
Police arrived on Nov. 20 to find a note outside the Delong’s home reading: “Do Not Enter Call Police.”
Neighbour Seth Rogers was shocked as news filtered out.
“We’ve grown up, shoveled snow with them,” he said, outside of his home. “We’ve known each other more than 30 years. They were a really nice couple.”
Police originally took Jim Tompkins, Elizabeth’s husband, into custody after he reported the crime and was released that night.
Homicide head Staff Insp. Brian Raybould said anyone who reports a crime is usually considered a suspect.
The police are declining to comment on the motive behind the triple murder-suicide at this time.