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Jayne Peters

  • Birth 1955
  • Death 13 Jul 2010 Coppell, Dallas County, Texas, USA
  • Burial Unknown
  • Memorial ID 54925616

Deaths of Coppell mayor, daughter ruled murder-suicide
04:59 PM CDT on Wednesday, July 14, 2010
By BRANDON FORMBY / The Dallas Morning News
bformby@dallasnews.com

Coppell Mayor Jayne Peters apparently fatally shot her college-bound daughter in their house and then killed herself, city and county officials said today.


Coppell police found Jayne and Corinne Peters dead in their home Tuesday night after the mayor failed to show up for a City Council meeting.

Posted on the front door were a key and a typed note warning officers of what they would find inside the family's two-story house in the 700 block of Greenway Drive. Corinne Peters was found dead on the ground floor, and her mother was upstairs. Both suffered gunshot wounds to the head.

Three more suicide notes were found throughout the house, two typed and one handwritten. Police said they gave no clues as to what led to the shooting but rather provided instructions on, among other things, how to care for the family's pets. Two dogs were found in the house.

Corinne Peters, who turned 19 last month, was a 2010 graduate of Coppell High School, where she was on the Lariettes drill team. A "CHS Lariette" sign was in the front yard of the house, a few feet from the front door.

Friends and neighbors said she planned to attend the University of Texas at Austin in the fall.


"We're all in shock," said family friend Bob Tamura, whose daughter attended ballet classes with Corinne Peters since they were children. "We just can't believe it."

Flags flew at half-staff this morning at city facilities, where some employees showed up for work in a somber mood, city spokeswoman Sharon Logan said. Others, she said, were visibly upset.

"It's grim," she said.

Jayne Peters, a contract software developer, succeeded Doug Stover as mayor last year after no one challenged her bid for the seat. She first joined the council in 1998.

No one else lived at the family's home in the 700 block of Greenway drive, in an upper-middle-class neighborhood off MacArthur Boulevard. The mayor's husband, Donald Peters, died in January 2008 from complications related to cancer.

Janny Lim, a friend of Corinne's since seventh grade, said Corinne told her things were difficult between her and her mother after Donald Peters' death at age 58. The two women dealt with their grief on their own terms, she said.

"After her dad died, everything got so much harder," Lim said. "Their relationship was rocky, and they would argue sometimes. They had good and bad times, but I didn't ever think it would be to the extent of this."

Neighbor Diane Ianni said Corinne baby-sat for her children and was eager to attend the University of Texas in Austin, where friends said she would have attended freshman orientation today.

"She had her whole life ahead of her and was excited about it," said Ianni, noting that Corinne had been wearing UT shirts for a week straight.

Ianni said the recent grad kept having to put off her freshman orientation because her mother had made several trips to the doctor. When she asked Corinne what was wrong, she said only that her mother would be OK.

Susan Wentworth, another Coppell High grad, said Corinne had told her that she was worried about her mother and how she would cope once she went away to college in Austin.

"I think Corinne's mom was kind of afraid to live by herself," Wentworth said.

The Rev. Dennis Wilkinson, pastor of the church attended by the Peterses, said he had been in contact with family members in Ohio.

"It's a terribly sad tragedy. It makes no sense," he said. "She was a deeply committed civic leader, and Corinne was a wonderfully gifted artist."

In a January interview with neighborsgo.com, the community news website affiliated with The Dallas Morning News, Jayne Peters said she was looking forward to a relatively tranquil year as mayor after a rocky 2009, in which the severe economic downturn caused many stresses for Coppell.

"I don't foresee anything in 2010 that would create the same type of concern," she said, "but I also don't see conflict as a negative. It's about how you handle it and your ability to reach a compromise."

If the mayor was experiencing any personal turmoil or issues at home, she gave no signs to her City Council colleagues, they said. She was her normal, cheerful self when Mayor Pro Tem Bob Mahalik saw her before the city's Independence Day parade this month.

"She was looking forward to handing candy out to people on the route," Mahalik said.

Mahalik, who will step in as mayor until an election can be held this fall, said Wednesday morning that he and other council members are still reeling from news of the deaths.

"It's just beyond almost comprehension to tell you the truth," he said.

Coppell police found the bodies about 7:45 p.m. after City Manager Clay Phillips asked them to check on the mayor because she did not show up for a council meeting Tuesday night.

"We started the council meeting this evening, and she's prompt as can be and if she's going to be late, she'll call you," Logan said.

Mahalik said there was an immediate sense that something wasn't right when Peters didn't show up for the meeting and no one had heard from her.

"You just kind of had a feeling like, 'wait a minute, Jayne is just too professional and too conscientious for something like that,' " he said.

Mahalik said council members were stunned when Phillips told them what police officers found.

"Everybody was looking back saying, 'Jeez did we miss something,'" he said.

Tamura, the family friend, said Peters was a generous woman who always gave of herself.

"She helped the community and so many people for so many years," he said. "I just wished I could have helped her."

Both Mahalik and Logan described Peters as a well-respected woman who was well-liked by residents, city staffers and fellow officials.

"The best way to describe Jayne is that she loved being mayor and she loved being the face of Coppell," Mahalik said. "And she was good at it."

This morning, Tamura placed a bouquet of flowers at the Peterses' front door, along with a photo of his daughter and Corinne as children dressed as dancing mice.

A note on the bouquet read: "May God bless this family."
-----------------------------------------------------------
Coppell mayor wrote she and her daughter 'were lost, alone, and afraid'

12:41 AM CDT on Saturday, July 17, 2010

By BRANDON FORMBY / The Dallas Morning News
bformby@dallasnews.com

Coppell Mayor Jayne Peters wrote in one of the suicide notes that her 19-year-old daughter hid her pain from her friends and that mother and daughter "were lost, alone, and afraid."

But in the notes, Peters never directly addressed what caused the hurt she described or led her to kill her herself and her daughter, Corinne. She also didn't mention mounting financial problems, including the multiple times in the past year her house was posted for foreclosure.

City officials now suspect money troubles may have led her to use her city-issued credit card for personal purchases such as groceries and clothes.
Also Online

Mayor bought clothes, groceries with city-issued credit card

Pastor: Mayor was 'desperate soul'
Copies of notes left by Jayne Peters:
Typed note on front door
Typed note on kitchen island, next to husband's cremated remains
Handwritten note on door to room where she was found

NeighborsGo: Coppell interim mayor Mahalik: 'Grieve ... get past this and move forward'

Coppell mayor's use of city-issued credit card raised questions

Single funeral divides many

Friends say Corinne Peters always smiling

Jayne Peters remembered as spirited public servant

Jacquielynn Floyd: Outside perfection may have led to inside troubles

Steve Blow: Suicide's stigma persists

Deaths of Coppell mayor, daughter ruled murder-suicide

Videos:
• Coppell mayor, daughter remembered
• Coppell police official announces murder-suicide ruling in mayor's death
• Friend discusses Coppell mayor's death (WFAA-TV)

Photos: Coppell mourns loss

"Corinne just kept on asking, 'Why won't God just let me die?' " said one of the notes left at the two-story house.

Police believe Jayne Peters shot Corinne Peters with a Glock 17 9 mm and then fatally shot herself. Family friends said neither woman was the same after family patriarch Donald Peters died in 2008. Two notes were found on a kitchen island in their home, near an urn containing Donald Peters' ashes, police said.

Also on Friday, police said that Cedar Hill Mayor Rob Franke, a friend of Jayne Peters, lent her the gun less than a week before the shootings.

City spokeswoman Sharon Logan also revealed for the first time where in the house the women were found. Corinne's body was in a downstairs laundry room, she said. Jayne Peters' body was found in an upstairs bathroom, though not the master bath.

Police also said an antidepressant was found in the home but didn't say whether the prescription was for Jayne Peters or her daughter. Investigators are awaiting toxicology reports from the Dallas County medical examiner.

The notes and locations of the bodies were among several pieces of new information about the two women and their deaths that emerged Friday – the same day hundreds gathered for their joint funeral at First United Methodist Church in Coppell.

An hour after the services, police and city officials held a news conference and released the suicide notes – including one that gave instructions for there to be no services.

"Please, please, please, no funeral, no memorial – just cremate us both," it read.

City credit card

Peters made more than $5,800 in charges on her city-issued credit card in the three months leading up to her suicide, according to documents obtained by The Dallas Morning News on Friday. The charges included $1,600 to Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Lewisville, more than $300 in clothes from clothing stores in Plano and more than $380 spent at Kroger in Coppell.

The records showed that she paid the city more than $361 in reimbursements during that time, but it was not clear what charges the reimbursement was for. Officials said there were more unexplained charges than the ones released Friday.

City staffers were preparing the routine report that listed the questionable charges when the mayor and her daughter were found dead. City Manager Clay Phillips said that he had first asked the mayor about receipts for charges as early as November. He said she never paid back the city for personal items as she had promised.

Phillips said she also failed to present receipts for other purchases. He said the missing receipts made it impossible for city staffers to determine whether some questionable items were for personal or city use. After months of being put off by the mayor, he went to the city attorney and asked for an investigation.

"We were at that point," he said of his mounting suspicions that have only grown since the mayor was found dead.

The exact charges that are unaccounted for or may have been for personal use are not yet known. Phillips said he believes they amount to $4,000 to $6,000. City officials said that the city attorney has not finished investigating the matter.

"When it's complete, we'll be able to answer anything it contains," Phillips said.

Phillips said he didn't suspect the credit card charges and lack of receipts and reimbursement were symptoms of a larger financial problem until media reports detailed Jayne Peters' apparent money troubles.

"If I'd have known what I know today, absolutely," Phillips said.

The two-story Peters house in the 700 block of Greenway Drive was posted for foreclosure three times in the last year, according to Foreclosure Listing Service. It was first posted in July of last year, then in February and again in March. It apparently never made it to auction.

A public-records search found no indication that Jayne Peters had filed for bankruptcy.

According to Dallas County records, an outstanding lien for $1,258 was filed on the house last August for nonpayment of neighborhood-association assessments. A previous neighborhood-association lien for $1,169 was filed in June 2008 and paid three months later.

The Rev. Dennis Wilkinson, who performed the service at Coppell's First United Methodist Church, told mourners that Jayne and Corinne were left with no financial resources after Donald Peters died. He described Jayne as a distressed woman who thought keeping the financial problems from Corinne would keep intact the 19-year-old's image of her father.

It remained unclear Friday why virtually everyone who knew Corinne Peters thought she was heading to the University of Texas at Austin in the fall, but the school had no record she ever applied.

A spokesman for the university said there was no record of anyone named Mary Corinne Peters, the 19-year-old's full name, applying to attend the school this fall. The school also never received her test scores.

Texas Christian University, another school some friends said she was planning to attend, also had no record of her being enrolled for fall classes.

Corinne Peters also never filled out a Texas Common Application, which is required for entrance to any public state college and university, an employee in the UT Austin admissions office said Friday.

A Coppell ISD spokeswoman said late Friday that officials were looking into the discrepancies.

'Please forgive me'

A note left on the door to the bathroom where police found Jayne Peters' body gave responders instructions not to resuscitate her. The one that described the pair as "lost, alone, and afraid" also asked for relatives to take care of the pets, including four cats.

"The dogs, Hope and Lucy, should be kept together or put down," the note said.

And the note on the front door asked for absolution.

"I am so very sorry for what you're about to discover," it said. "Please forgive me. Jayne."

Staff writers Erinn Connor, Wendy Hundley and Leigh Munsil contributed to this report.
COPPELL MAYOR'S NOTES

Here are the contents of the notes found at Jayne Peters' house:

Typewritten note on the door:

"To our First Responders:

Here is the key for the front door.

I am so very sorry for what you are about to discover.

Please forgive me.

Jayne"

Typewritten note found on the kitchen island, next to her husband's cremated remains:

"Oh gracious God, please forgive me and have mercy on my eternal soul.

My sweet, sweet Corinne had grown completely inconsolable...she had learned to hide her feelings from her friends, but the two of us were lost, alone, and afraid. Corinne just kept on asking, "why won't God just let me die?" We hadn't slept at all and neither one of us could stop crying when we were together.

Please ask my family to take care of my pets. The dogs, Hope and Lucy, should be kept together or put down. There are four cats:

Mystic – the black cat – 9 years old

Sassy – Siamese – 11 years old

Snowflake – Siamese – 11 years old

Reno – brown Abyssinian – 6 years old"

A second page contained contact information for relatives and ended with this note:

"Please, please, please, no funeral, no memorial – just cremate us both."

On a handwritten note on the door to the upstairs bathroom where she was found:

"DNR, Do not recesitate (sic) under any circumstances
Jayne Peters"

-----------------------------------------------------------
By BRANDON FORMBY / The Dallas Morning News
bformby@dallasnews.com

Corinne Peters' high school years were filled with plenty of the light-hearted rituals and endearing goofs typical of a teenager. But the young woman also had to deal with something most teenagers don't experience: grief.

Those closest to the only child say she never fully recovered after her father died from cancer when she was 16. Yet friends still knew her as fun-loving and extraordinarily compassionate.

Signs of accomplishment and progress — and the appearance that she was finally getting what she wanted out of life — shot up as she walked across a stage in a red graduation robe and collected her diploma last month.

Her doting, organized, helpful mother, Jayne Peters, was mayor of the well-heeled suburb of Coppell. Friends say the teen began driving a 2011 Hyundai Sonata her mother bought her as a graduation gift. She appeared eager to leave home and study health sciences at the University of Texas at Austin.

But Corinne's vocal hopes for the future were built on a web of deception that finally unraveled last week, when Jayne Peters killed her daughter and then herself.

The shocking crime unleashed a torrent of secrets that had been hidden behind Jayne Peters' almost-perfect public façade.

The family's house had almost been foreclosed on three times in the past year. Jayne Peters was about to be investigated for personal charges and unexplained expenses on a city-issued credit card. Corinne's "graduation present" was really a rental car.

"Knowing how much she wanted to protect her from the embarrassment, shame and humiliation of their financial ruin allows those of us who knew her to understand why she took Corinne with her," said Doug Stover, who preceded Jayne Peters as Coppell's mayor.

A good lifestyle

Jayne Parsley was born in 1955 and raised in Ohio. She was 34 when she married Donald Peters in Florida. Two years later they had their only child, Mary Corinne.

The family moved to Coppell 17 years ago. Donald worked in information technology and business development. Jayne was a contract software developer who organized neighborhood events and served as head of the parent-teacher organization at Corinne's elementary school.

In 1998, Jayne Peters won a City Council seat.

That same year, she and Donald took out a $283,500 mortgage for the two-story house on Greenway Drive that today is appraised at $422,780.

"They lived a lifestyle that indicated they made good money," said Stover, who was a close friend.

Outwardly, the family seemed tight-knit and happy. Corinne and her father were close, family friends said. The same friends said Jayne Peters never put her official duties ahead of motherhood.

The family dynamics, friends say, forever changed after Donald Peters was diagnosed with cancer. The family tried surgery and traditional treatments. They also attempted experimental treatments, friends say.

Wayne B. Hunter Jr. was a business partner of Don Peters' for four years at AvTek Solutions, an IT consulting firm in Plano. Peters, who was the vice president of services, was a dedicated co-worker but also had an active life outside the company, Hunter said.

"Don was the ultimate family man," said Hunter, AvTek's president and CEO. "He was the cornerstone of that family. He had a strong sense of right and wrong. He was about as down-to-earth as you could get."

He said Peters was "the picture of health," running "four miles, three times a week." About April 2007, however, Peters began having some problems and visited his doctor. He was soon diagnosed with colon cancer. "It was a shock," Hunter said.

"He worked until the very end," he said. "We would fuss at him about coming to the office. That's the type of person he was. When he told someone he was going to do something, he commits to it. He was just that type of guy."

Don Peters died Jan. 15, 2008, at age 58.

New car

Corinne Peters wasn't known as the best driver among her fellow Coppell High students. They often teased the brunette girl about it. Janny Lim said her friend took it in stride: Corinne Peters made a ritual of kissing her fingers and touching the dashboard when she came to a yellow light.

"She was harder to understand than other people, but I don't think I ever met a more genuine person," Lim said.

Stover said that after Donald Peters died in 2008, Corinne Peters got in a wreck driving the Hyundai Sonata her parents had bought her around her 16th birthday the previous June.

"We were told by Jayne that it was totaled," Stover said of the car.

Corinne had been driving one of the other family cars. Then she showed up with what friends said was a new car — the 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

City Manager Clay Phillips knew Corinne had been driving a new car recently. As news that police had discovered the women dead spread through town Tuesday, Phillips went to the house.

Sharon Logan, a city spokeswoman, said the city manager told an officer, "I think there's another car. You better look into it."

Personal expenses

Peters was unopposed for mayor in May 2009 after Stover stepped down.

In November, Clay Phillips started to have questions about charges the new mayor was making on her city-issued credit card. While most council members turned in receipts for their purchases every month, Peters did not.

From April to June of this year, city officials estimated, the questionable expenses, which included charges for groceries, clothes and car rentals, totaled $4,000 to $6,000.

Phillips said Peters was polite when he repeatedly asked about them. She always said she was getting ready to reimburse the city for personal charges and provide receipts for the rest.

Stover said that before that, Peters had been very organized and careful about public funds. The two had talked about being good stewards of taxpayer money when they served together.

"We never wanted to be in the headlines for our elected officials being associated with a boondoggle," he said.

Financial problems

Meanwhile, Peters had been having personal financial problems. In July 2009, the house she bought with her late husband was posted for foreclosure.

The Rev. Dennis Wilkinson of First United Methodist Church in Coppell said last week that Peters was left with virtually no financial resources after Donald Peters died.

"I don't know how much money they obviously had to pay for his treatment and surgeries and experimental stuff that they did to try and save him," Stover said.

Coppell's mayor and City Council positions are unpaid. Stover said he's unsure how well Peters was paid for the contract software development work she did. He said he knew it wasn't a full-time job. But she did talk about it often.

"She would tell me, ‘I just finished my workout and I have to go work on some programming,' " Stover said.

Peters received financial help from the church. But many people — even those who felt they knew her well — said she kept much of that private. Especially from her daughter.

By the time Corinne was ready to graduate, the house had been posted for foreclosure and saved from auction two more times.

College plans

As the end of the school year approached, Coppell High School seniors posted their college plans on a group wall. On April 26, Corinne Peters wrote: "University of Texas - Health Science."

"UT-Austin was one of the best things that happened to her for college," classmate Lim said. "For a while she said she wanted to go into psychiatric nursing, even though everyone would tell her what a crazy difficult job that would be."

In May, Corinne posted on Facebook about moving into a dorm room. Just about everyone in her life thought she was going to UT this fall.

But officials at the school have since said they have no record of an application. Stover said friends now wonder whether Peters told her daughter she would handle her college application but never did.

"Jayne was a completely organized, thorough person who would have done all the planning and preparation on Corinne's behalf," Stover said.

Friends said Corinne truly believed she had been accepted to UT. They said Corinne wouldn't have doubted her mother if she had said everything was taken care of.

"In general, she's one of the most gullible people I've met," said friend Erin Barlow. "That's what makes her her, and I can see how it wouldn't be all that hard to make her believe something that she wanted to believe so bad."

On July 6, about a month after she started driving the new Sonata, Corinne said in Facebook posts that she was missing another college orientation for freshmen. UT had such a session starting that day.

"Basically, I have had the worst luck ever whenever I attempt to go to orientation," she wrote.

Another UT session was scheduled for six days later. By then, Corinne's mother had a gun she had borrowed from Cedar Hill Mayor Rob Franke.

Final day

About 6 a.m. Monday, Corinne walked out to the driveway of the Coppell house where she grew up. Now 19 and ready for college, she had been wearing UT shirts for days. She had missed previous freshman orientation sessions. Another was scheduled to start that day, though.

Neighbors saw Corinne put something into a car and then go back inside. Police said it was the last time anyone saw her alive. About 15 to 20 minutes later, Jayne Peters walked outside and took items out of the car.

City officials said that within an hour someone — they don't know who — dropped off at the Avis outlet in Lewisville the 2011 Sonata that Jayne Peters had rented on June 2. Friends and neighbors had been under the impression that Peters had bought the car for Corinne as a graduation present.

About 12:30 p.m., the mayor was seen walking along MacArthur Boulevard, one of the city's busiest streets. It was the last time she was seen alive.

Also Monday, Phillips sent the mayor an e-mail again, pressing for receipts and reimbursement.

The next day, Peters didn't answer any of the texts or e-mails that city staffers sent as they prepared for Tuesday night's City Council meeting. Phillips hadn't heard from her either and asked the city attorney to launch an investigation into her spending.

When Peters didn't show up for the council work and executive sessions at 5:30 p.m., just about everyone thought it was odd. When she hadn't arrived in time for the 7:30 p.m. regular meeting, Phillips asked police to make a welfare check at the mayor's house.

Officers who arrived were greeted by a typed note on the front door. It apologized to first responders for what they would find inside. A key to the door was included.

"That was Jayne," Stover said. "That good side of Jayne that transformed into something later that we can't understand."

"She was always concerned about other people and making sure that other people were OK and that other people were taken care of, that other people were not in any way inconvenienced."

Looking for answers

Animal urine and waste was found throughout the Peters house when police entered Tuesday night. Officers found the family's two dogs, Hope and Lucy. They quickly located two of the family's four cats.

On the kitchen island were two suicide notes placed near the urn that held Donald Peters' remains.

"We hadn't slept at all and neither one of us could stop crying when we were together," one of the notes said.

Corinne Peters' body was in the laundry room. She had been shot in her head, which had been wrapped in towels. Jayne Peters' body was in a bathroom upstairs. The only handwritten note found — requesting no resuscitation — was taped to the door.

The police investigation continues. The community of about 39,000 began to replay the past few years looking for signs of trouble. In hindsight, they said, it was easy to put the pieces together.

"Much of what we were led to believe is a lie," Phillips said.

Remembered together

Corinne Peters was memorialized Friday alongside the woman police say ended the 19-year-old's life: her mom, the mayor.

City officials said relatives chose to have the joint service. Some criticized the decision. Others couldn't imagine mother and daughter not being remembered together. Wilkinson, the senior pastor at First United Methodist, didn't shy away from addressing how the women died.

"I think that it's become very apparent to all the people who knew her that Jayne had some deep troubles," Stover said. "She was the first person to reach out to help people, but she never let anybody help her."

After the funeral, Corinne's friends gathered to pray, share stories and grieve together. Pictures taken from Corinne's bedroom were displayed at the front of the room, and the teens were invited to keep the photos that meant the most to them.

Aaron Endelman strummed his guitar and sang Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," a tribute to Corinne's love of dancing.

"And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand," he sang.

Friend Chris Bigelow recounted the last night he saw her, when she and several friends went to the 7-Eleven on Denton Tap Road on July 11 to get free Slurpees.

Bigelow said that they went back to a friend's house, and he watched her get into her car and drive away — not knowing he would be the last of her friends to see her alive. Recounting the story to his peers, he paused to control his tears.

"She went home happy," he said.


Family Members

Spouse
Children
Gravesite Details Logan said she didn't know where relatives planned to bury Jayne and Corinne Peters.

See more Peters memorials in:

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  • Created by: Aimee
  • Added: 14 Jul 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 54925616
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Jayne Peters (1955–13 Jul 2010), Find A Grave Memorial no. 54925616, ; Maintained by Aimee (contributor 14256776) Unknown.