Warning: This article discusses suicide, and contains details which may disturb some readers.
Suicide letters left by a South Dakota woman who killed her husband and son in a alleged murder-suicide are being examined by police.
In September, police found the bodies of 35-year-old Stephanie Hoover, 38-year-old Rob Hoover, and seven-year-old Zachary Hoover in their Lennox home.
Police say Ms Hoover's numerous suicide letters are bringing to light the motivations behind her actions.
- British school makes pupils write suicide notes
- Police officer responds to open letter from woman she saved from suicide
- US father's blood-curdling letter to court ahead of daughter's death
In a 19-page letter for her parents, Ms Hoover confessed to embezzling US$80,000 (NZ$114,00) from her employer, Southridge Healthcare, since 2014.
"I know it's a lot and didn't go to anything extravagant. We financed our cars & camper and vacations and furniture were paid by tax returns and house sale. It's just amazing how fast money flies out of the account for bills and other expenses," she wrote.
"I've never been able to find a balance - I work more and have to pay more daycare. I work less and don't have enough money."
The letter reveals she was terrified of being found out in an upcoming audit, and wrote about her fear of going to prison.
"Rob can't take care of the kids alone, let alone provide for them. They'd lose the house and have nothing."
Ms Hoover also wrote of her son Zachary's behavioural issues, and how she would take better care of him in heaven.
She also asked her parents to look after her and Mr Hoover's three other children, aged 10, 7, and 1.
"The kids will be in pain (and so will you) but it WILL get better! It has to! Do NOT let this pain darken the rest of your life and theirs!
"Please don't let them know what I've done if possible, or try to explain. I'm not a monster. I just wanted my kids to be cared for and loved.
"I'm sorry for what this does to you guys. You gave us everything I had the perfect family, house, everything and I ruined it all. I pray that you can forgive me."
Police said Ms Hoover planned the murder-suicide for around two months before she went through with it.
Just days prior to the murder-suicide, she convinced her husband to update their will to make her parents the guardians of their children if anything would happen to both of them.
Once the wills were changed, she purchased a gun.
The night before the incident, she dropped her youngest child off at her parents' house. The next morning she took two of her children to school, but left Zachary home.
She then returned to the house and shot Mr Hoover three times while he stood at the kitchen counter.
According to police, Zachary was on the couch playing a game and wearing headphones when his mother shot him four times.
At this point, Ms Hoover packed up items her other children would need, put them in her van, and parked it in her mother's driveway.
She then walked home, texted her mother to call 911, and shot herself.
Police say the other suicide letters she left were for her other three children, her brothers, and for detectives investigating the incident.
Where to find help and support:
Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Samaritans - 0800 726 666
- Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
- Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)