Autopsy: Mother who killed kids, self was on meds at the time

Gayle McCulloch shot her 2 sons, self in February

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - A St. Johns County mother who shot and killed her two sons, then herself in February had Xanax and Klonopin in her system at the time, according to an autopsy report from the St. Johns County Medical Examiner's Office released Wednesday.

The levels of those prescription drugs in Gayle McCulloch's system were consistent with following a doctor's prescription for treatment of anxiety and seizures, according to the report. There is no sign she was taking too much of either prescription. Nothing else was found in her system, including no illegal drugs or alcohol.

DOCUMENT:  Gayle McCulloch autopsy

One local doctor is raising red flags about taking the prescription medications together.

"The problem is to take them together could really cause some problems with the person," said primary care Dr. Wesley Mills, speaking in general about combining the drugs. "It may go from calming you down, slowing you down, slow down your mental process. It may cause acute mental status changes."

One of the side effects of clonazepam, or Klonopin, is suicide. According to the Food and Drug Administration, a study of drugs including clonazepam revealed that patients in the study had twice the risk of suicidal thinking or behavior.

McCulloch, 40, shot and killed her sons, 8-year-old Daniel and 7-year-old William Rashley, as they slept in their Julington Creek Plantation home, then shot herself in the mouth, according to the report. McCulloch's family and neighbors have struggled to understand why this tragedy happened.

Injuries from a June 2010 car crash that left McCulloch disabled and in a wheelchair included the loss of her spleen and a kidney.

While it can't be known if the prescriptions somehow contributed to McCulloch's decision to kill her sons, what is known from McCulloch's family and her ex-husband is that she adored her sons.

A close friend of McCulloch's said she loved her sons deeply and was working hard to be the best mother possible, despite her disability, which is why many were stunned to hear what she had done.

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