LIVONIA, Mich (WXYZ) - A double murder-suicide in Livonia has family and friends of the victims barely able to cope with the aftermath.
A good friend of one of the victims, 19-year-old Jake Burns, says he nearly lost it at work when he found out what happened. He says Jake was the nicest young man who was friends with everyone.
A neighbor and friend of another victim, Angela Staperfene, says she was a wonderful mother, wife and neighbor and that everyone is stunned.
Police say both Angela and Jake were killed by 20-yeary-old Brian White when he came to a house on Sunnydale Wednesday morning.
White was apparently upset about a break up with Angela's 17-year-old daughter, Desiree Staperfene. Police say White used an axe to first kill Desiree's mother and then Jake Burns, a young man who was staying at the home.
White then shot and killed himself.
"Everyone is dealing with the grief in their own way," says friend Lisa Collins who adds that "everyone is confused about why this happened ... confused and heartbroken."
Counselors were available at Stevenson High School where Desiree is a student. She was the only person in the house to survive.
Family members were at the house Thursday. They say for now they need privacy as they give love and support to Desiree and her father, David, who was at work at the time of the murders.
The family did release a statement Thursday evening. It reads as follows:
The Staperfene family wishes to extend their heartfelt thanks to the many friends, neighbors and their extended family – as well as the Livonia community and its young people - for their prayers, sympathy, kindness and condolences in the wake of this horrific tragedy.
Despite the unbelievable pain and loss of Desiree losing her mother, and David Staperfene’s loss of his loving wife of 21 years, we are grateful that Desiree was able to survive. It is the one shining miracle we all hold on to, in the face of this unthinkable event.
Our sympathies also, are with the family of Jake Burns. He was a family friend that the Staperfenes welcomed into their home, as they have done countless times for others. David and Angela both have extended their hospitality and hearts to so many. It is comforting to hear what an impact such graciousness has meant for others, and we appreciate the kind favors you have given from your own hearts at this time of need.
The family will be setting up the Angela K. Staperfene Fund for those who wish to donate toward funeral and other expenses.
It is so deeply unfortunate that a simple breakup would cause such everlasting pain and loss. Please know that the Staperfene family is resilient, strong, and with courage. If anything in this world is a testament to such a thing, it is Desiree’s survival. She is a wonderful reflection of her mother’s strong convictions, and her father’s calm, steady guidance.
We can only hope that other young people will understand that a breakup is not a permanent loss, but a gateway to another path. Had the perpetrator of these killings understood that healing is a better alternative to anger and hurt, nobody would be experiencing anything but the continuation of their lives.
Ps- Desiree would like to thank the officer who first arrived on the scene for his compassion and care.