Ayhan Aytes

Police find suicide note at home of professor who killed 3-year-old daughter before taking his own life: Report

The Florida professor who was found dead with his young daughter in an apparent murder-suicide left a typed suicide note at the scene, new court documents show.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Ayhan Aytes, 48, was found dead with his 3-year-old daughter Ela in mid-December at his Tampa area home. Aytes had been in an increasingly bitter custody battle with his wife Laurel Friedman, who filed for divorce last January.

Both parents had accused the other of violating the terms of their shared custody agreement, according to the Tampa Bay Times, and Friedman had filed an emergency motion on December 5 after Aytes had not brought Ela to school, asking for a police escort to pick up her daughter at Aytes’ apartment, citing fears over his erratic behavior. But according to the Tampa Bay Times, the Temple Terrace Police Department did not not grant her request. An officer reportedly contacted Aytes by phone and appeared to accept his claims that everything was fine.

Aytes, a Turkish national with permanent resident status in the U.S., had been an assistant professor at the University of South Florida, where his wife also works, until his contract ended in May. When police eventually performed a welfare check at his home on December 10, he was found dead by hanging on a porch while the little girl was deceased in her bed, with no obvious signs of trauma.

The Tampa Bay Times obtained court documents referencing a typed suicide note that appears to reveal a motive for the murder-suicide.

“I cannot imagine a life for myself and Ela to go through this nonsense for the rest of our lives,” the letter read. It also reportedly made reference to the ongoing custody battle between Aytes and Friedman.

Friedman gave the newspaper a statement in response to a request for comment about the tragic events.

“These events are painful to recount, but it is tremendously important to make clear that my daughter Ela was failed by multiple entities that had responsibility for protecting her,” Friedman said. “I sought help from people in positions of authority over the course of several days, repeatedly voicing escalating concern for Ela’s safety.”

The murder-suicide investigation is ongoing. CrimeOnline will provide further updates when more information is available.