GRESHAM, Ore. (KGW) — A Gresham mother killed her two young children before taking her own life amid a custody battle with her ex-spouse, according to Gresham police.
Police said Ashley Palmer, 31, and her two children were found dead inside their home at the Rockwood Village Apartments during a welfare check Tuesday morning.
The Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the case was a murder-suicide, saying Palmer apparently shot her children, 8-year-old Xavier Palmer and 6-year-old Kayleana Palmer, and then took her own life.
Authorities said that Ashley Palmer was in a custody battle with her ex-spouse Jenavie Palmer. According to court documents, Ashley claimed that her children could be harmed if her ex-spouse had any custody, citing unhealthy and unsafe living conditions along with photos from inside an apartment.
A judge once granted Ashley’s request for an immediate danger order, which gave her sole custody, but rescinded it a month later. A second time more recently, the judge denied the same request.
Her ex-spouse Jenavie called police after midnight Tuesday to request the welfare check, but police said the call did not necessarily indicate an urgent danger, and they said they were initially given the wrong address.
And then there were issues trying to gain access to the apartment building.
“It gets a lot of our officers frustrated because a lot of us have kids and we want to get in there and make sure people are safe,” said Gresham Police Officer Adam Baker.
Baker said it took two more calls to try and gain entry at the apartment complex before police discovered the bodies around 7:45 a.m. Tuesday. Police said they believe the tragedy happened before they ever got a call.
“Ultimately what we found when we were canvassing neighbors was that one of the other people in the building heard what we believe were probably the three fatal gunshots about 90 minutes before the first call from family came in,” said Baker.
The Rockwood Village Apartments, a new affordable housing complex in Gresham, issued a statement saying, “Our hearts go out to the loved ones of this family. We are heartbroken and this tragic event will be felt across the community.”
Gresham police are continuing to piece together the timeline leading up to the tragedy.