‘I’m NOT a monster’: Mom leaves note after killing husband, son, self in grisly murder-suicide

A suicide note left behind after a South Dakota mother of four killed her son and husband before turning the gun on herself, revealed the motive behind a gruesome murder-suicide that left her three other children without parents.

The Argus Leader reports that the parents of a slain Lennox man shared a suicide note left behind by Stephanie Hoover, a mom of four children who was facing the possibility of going to prison for embezzling money. Hoover devised a plan in July 2017 on how to avoid life behind bars while in her own rationale, “saving” the rest of her family. She started her plan two months prior to carrying out a calculated scheme that involved not only taking her own life, but the life of her husband and a son with behavioral problems.

“He’s better off with his momma in heaven where I can take care of him and be at peace,” Hoover wrote about her son Zachary, who was in 2nd grade when she shot him four times, fatally injuring him.

Court documents indicate that little Zachary had his headphones on, playing a video game in the living room of his family home when his mother killed him. Hoover’s husband, Rob, was standing in the kitchen of the Lennox Square home when she aimed the gun at him and shot five times, killing him as well.

Although there didn’t seem to be any marriage difficulties, Hoover rationalized killing her husband by writing in a suicide note that he wouldn’t be able to financially take care of the kids once she was gone.

“Rob can’t take care of the kids alone, let alone provide for them. They’d lose the house and have nothing.”

According to Rob’s father, Bob Hoover, the slain husband took care of his four kids, a job he loved, while Hoover worked as an accounts receivable specialist at Southridge Healthcare in Sioux Falls. Hoover wrote that she couldn’t afford to take care of her family on her salary, so she began taking money from the company. Eventually, she had taken close to $80,000 when she learned the company would be auditing the financial books in September 2017.

“I work more and have to pay more day care,” Hoover reportedly wrote in her suicide letter. “I work less and don’t have enough money. Rob knows nothing about it. I’ve always paid the bills and managed the account. He had no idea.”

Shortly before she carried out her plan, Hoover had new wills drawn up and left her estate in the care of her parents. She also appointed them to take care of her children should anything happen to them. Further, she bought a gun in Sioux Falls. Once she had the gun in hand, she carried out her plan the following day.

In her letter, she claimed she was not a monster and indicated that although her surviving family would be in pain, they should go on with their lives and make it work.

“The kids will be in pain (and so will you) but it WILL get better!” she wrote, addressing her parents. “It has to! Do NOT let this pain darken the rest of your life and theirs!”

After the shootings, Hoover packed the bags of her surviving children, two of which were dropped off at before carrying out the brutal murders. She left her 1-year-old with a family member.

Court documents indicate she packed school supplies and stuffed animals. She also left them a letter explaining that their grandparents would take care of them. She then returned home and called her mother, pleading with her to not come to her home but instead, call 911. Hoover then hung up and shot herself in the head.

Hoover’s mother lived less than a mile from her daughter’s house. She rushed over and was there within three minutes, with law enforcement arriving four minutes late.

Meanwhile, Bob Hoover told the Argus Leader that speculators on social media tainted his son’s image by questioning whether his son spent too much money, abused his family, or cheated. The grieving father hopes that with the release of the suicide note (Bob gave the Argus Leader access to the note, although the case is still under investigation) and the conclusion of the audit at Hoover’s former job, people will realize his son did nothing wrong.

Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

[Feature Photo: Stephanie and Rob Hoover/Facebook]