A 28-year-old woman who grew up in Reisterstown was killed in Erie, Pa., along with two of her children, authorities there said Monday. The killer was identified by police as the children's father, who also wounded his 2-year-old son before committing suicide.
The Erie County coroner gave the shooter's name as Brian Dacus, 29. He had been in a relationship with the woman, Jamie Dianne Malanowski, for nine years, according to a posting on her Facebook page. She wrote that she had left him on Nov. 6, a week before she died.
Malanowski, who had attended Timber Grove Elementary School in Owings Mills and Franklin High School in Reisterstown, told friends on her Facebook page that she had moved out of the house she shared with Dacus but said she was unsure whether to leave him for good. "I don't know if it's the rite thing," she wrote. "My head is going to explode."
A few days earlier, she had written that she was "miserable" with Dacus. She said he "doesn't do anything for me or the kids — he's lazy." She told friends that an additional "problem" had arisen — she had met someone else and had "feelings for this other guy as he does for me."
"I'm going so crazy trying to decide either way," Malanowski wrote on her page, which remained publicly available on Monday. "Someone is getting hurt."
The two dead children were identified as Trinity, 7, and Brianna, 4. The couple's 2-year-old son was wounded but survived, police said. The bodies of the girls and the two adults were found Saturday by two of Malanowski's co-workers after she had taken a break from work but failed to return.
"Jamie was a beautiful, beautiful girl," said Lisa Whye, whose son and daughter were childhood friends in Reisterstown with Malanowski and her younger sister, Amanda. "They all grew up in the same court. They all played together. We could see each other's front doors."
"It shook me to the core," she said, describing the moment Sunday morning when she received a text message saying Malanowski and her daughters were dead. "I would never have thought that I'd have to hear that."
Whye said she had called Malanowski's mother, Terry, in Ona, an unincorporated community in Cabell County, W.Va., on Sunday evening to express her condolences. "She said he was crazy and on drugs," Whye said, quoting Terry Malanowski's description of Dacus and his "problems."
In Erie, Courtney Jacobs, 29, said she and Jamie Malanowski had worked together since August at Crating, Handling and Transfer of Pennsylvania, a shipping company close enough to Malanowski's home that she could walk to work. Jacobs said that after Malanowski failed to return to work on Saturday, she and a supervisor became worried, went to her house and discovered the bodies.
"She was really nice," Jacobs said of her colleague. "She was a sweet person. She would always help me out. She and those kids definitely didn't deserve what happened to them at all."
Barbara Montalvo, 69, who lived across the street from Malanowski and Dacus, said he was friendly and often carried her groceries into her house. Montalvo said that Dacus had waved to her on Friday while she was in the yard with her dog.
"They were such sweet people," Montalvo said. "I've never seen an argument or a bad anything between them. They were sweet. She worked. He stayed home and took care of the kids."
If the two women had not seen each other in a while, Malanowski would cross the street and ask Montalvo if she was all right. "I'd see them sitting out back in the evenings on their little porch," Montalvo said. "The girls, I'd see them out playing in the backyard. It's so sad."
Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri said Malanowski and Dacus had apparently become estranged. He said the woman had left her workplace on Saturday to go to a store and decided to check on the children, whom she was supposed to pick up that afternoon.
"She was shot when she got there," Daneri said. "We don't know if he had already killed the two daughters and shot the son."
The bodies of the two girls were found at the kitchen table, and the bodies of the couple were in the same room, Daneri said. The boy had been in the living room watching cartoons on television and suffered a wound to his ear.
"I've been doing this for 10 years, and been to a lot of homicide scenes," Daneri said. "This was just heart-wrenching. It was horrible."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.