Slain Couple Had History Of Abuse

Deputies: Husband Killed Estranged Wife, Self

Published On: Oct 14 2011 02:32:25 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 11 2011 05:19:33 AM EDT
GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -

Candles circle a lawn adorned with flowers, in remembrance of a mother of four, who deputies said was killed by her estranged husband in a murder-suicide Friday afternoon.

Family members and friends of 49-year-old Julia Herbert said her killing stemmed from domestic abuse by 50-year-old Mark Herbert, who killed himself after shooting his estranged wife, deputies said.

"That's like my second mom. I love her dearly," family friend Lucinia Musinin said of Julia Herbert. "She was such a sweetheart to everyone she knew, so it's a really bad loss for everyone that knew her."

Julia Herbert's daughters, who range in age from 3 to 18, are now without their mother.

Julia Herbert had recently spent time at the Quigley House, Clay County's domestic abuse shelter. Sharon Youngerman, executive director of the Quigley House, said she is troubled by the tragedy.

"It says to me that the community failed her," Youngerman said of the killings.

Youngerman was directed to the crime scene Friday to help the children. The couple's 3-year-old daughter was home at the time, and Julia Herbert's 18-year-old daughter came home with her 9-year-old sister just after the shootings.

"The older ones will obviously need lots of therapy because they lost both parents in such a violent, tragic way," Youngerman said.

Youngerman said someone should have spoken up sooner. Family and friends said they knew of Mark Herbert's threats.

If that weren't enough, court records indicate Mark Herbert used the judicial system to harass his estranged wife. Youngerman said that is common in cases like this.

"He used many mechanisms throughout the court system to try to be able to do that, and slinging mud was unfortunately one of the things that happened," Youngerman said.

Ronnie Surency, the couple's pastor, said his memory is of a loving mother who brought her children to church.

"Julia would bring them. Mark, I hadn't seem him in a long time," Surency said. "But such a tragedy."

Julia Herbert had obtained a temporary injunction against her husband in April 2010 to keep him away from her home, but it expired that same month, and she did not attempt to seek any further restraints.

A vigil was to be held Monday evening at the home where the couple was killed. The couple's children were turned over to the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families until permanent arrangements could be made.

A VyStar account has been set up to help the victims' children. The account number is 702869387.