Hillsborough County Sheriff's detectives said Thursday they were struggling to find a motive behind a murder-suicide in North Tampa in which a 68-year-old mother shot and killed her 46-year-old daughter, then turned the gun on herself.
Spokesman Larry McKinnon said investigators were looking and notes and letters found in the home to try to determine why the mother, Julia Hill, committed the crime that left her family in shock.
"We have to cope with the loss of two family members, not just one and it's just a tragedy," said Angel Burch, Julia Hill's sister-in-law. "It's unexplainable at this time why this tragedy could have happened in our family."
McKinnon said the mother called 911 late Wednesday night and asked deputies to come to her home on Grainary Avenue.
"From the 911 call, the dispatchers could determine that she sounded like she was in distress," McKinnon said.
It wasn't until authorities arrived that they discovered what happened. They found Julia Hill lying on the floor with a gunshot wound to her chest and a weapon nearby.
She was still alive at the time and told deputies she had shot her daughter, Tracey Hill, and then shot herself. Investigators found the daughter dead in her bedroom. Julia Hill died at Florida Hospital Tampa.
Loved ones said the two had lived together for years and loved each other. Tracey Hill was even studying to be a nurse's assistant.
"Completely out of character. Of all the things that could have happened, this would never have entered my mind," Burch said, adding neither Julia nor Tracey Hill had any health issues that would make them want to take their own lives.
Detectives said they'd also look into the financial history of the family to see if that played a part. As of late Thursday, however, they said they had few leads.
Even as she began to cope with the losses, Burch had a message for other families.
"Take your family seriously and know that they could be here today and gone tomorrow, she said. "Give everybody a hug."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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