Mother who killed child struggled with mental illness, family says

Neighbors described Karina Clark as a generous, "sweet" person who was active in her LDS Ward.But behind close...

Posted: Jan 4, 2018 12:34 AM
Updated: Jan 4, 2018 12:34 AM

Neighbors described Karina Clark as a generous, "sweet" person who was active in her LDS Ward.

But behind closed doors, family members say, Clark struggled with mental illness for years and had a tumultuous relationship with her other children.

On Sunday night, Unified police officers conducting a welfare check at her home, 2665 S. 8990 West, found the bodies of Clark, 41, and her 9-year-old daughter, Madison. Police say Karina shot Madison multiple times and then turned the gun on herself.

"It was a planned death. She already had the whole house packed up. Much of it was in boxes," said her son, Gibson Clark, though his mother had mentioned she was moving in Facebook posts before her death.

Clark, 23, said a suicide note was also found in the house. In the note, his mother talked about her recent breakup with her boyfriend.

"She can't live in a world without him and she can't have Maddie raised by the family," he said his mother wrote.

Neighbors say Karina Clark had been suffering from depression following a recent surgery. Gibson Clark added that his mother had also lost her job recently and was reportedly in the process of being evicted from her house.

Bailey Miller, 20, Karina Clark's daughter and Gibson's half sister, posted on her Facebook page that her mother and Madison had been dead for 24 days, and Maddie was shot three times.

"My heart aches to what had to have happened that night. I have been filled with anger and sadness and have begged God to give me some sort of reason," she wrote. "My mom, despite what has been done, was a good person. She struggled from mental illness for a while but her heart was always in a good place. That is why this incident is just so shocking."

Gibson Clark said he's angered by the tragedy, but also added, "it's honestly not surprising."

He said his mother was diagnosed as being bipolar and having multiple personality disorder.

"She was pretty troubled," Clark said.

Growing up, Karina Clark moved her family frequently around Utah and Idaho. Gibson Clark said his family lived in a homeless shelter at one point. When he was 3, Clark said his mother was going to put he and his siblings up for adoption, but his grandmother took them in and raised them for four years until his mother took them back.

In recent years, Clark said he didn't have a lot of contact with his mother. The last time he talked to her was a month ago. That conversation, he said, ended in a heated argument.

"The family was always pretty broken to begin with. And my mom just kind of cut herself off from everybody," he said.

It's because of those past trying times that Clark said he's upset his mother chose to do what she did, "instead of figuring it out, because we've had worse than this and we made it through."

He remembers Maddie, who was just recently baptized as a member of the LDS Church, as being a bright spot in the family.

"Maddie was great. She was very creative and nice and caring to people. She just always did the right thing," he said.

What also troubles Clark is that there were reportedly some warning signs that something might happen.

"My mom had actually came out and told people that she was going to kill Maddie and kill herself if she lost her boyfriend," he said.

But the people she told that to, told her to "just calm down," according to Clark, and never contacted authorities. Because of that, he is encouraging others to say something if they see signs of abuse or if someone is making threats.

"You never know what's going on behind closed doors. If you notice something, speak up," he said.

The Division of Child and Family Services on Tuesday could not comment on whether there was any case history with their office and Karina or Madison Clark, citing the still active investigation by Unified police.

Clark's niece Alia Hararah set up a YouCaring fundraising page* to help the family pay for the funeral.

"Mental illness is such an ugly and heartbreaking thing!! You never know what someone is going through and capable of and my heart is breaking for these kids who now have to bury their mother and little sister. My grandma still is in shock about the whole thing! No parent should have to bury their daughter and granddaughter," she wrote.

For twins Bailey and Brandon Miller, their mother's death follows the death of their father, who committed suicide years earlier.

But Clark said he and his siblings will pull through.

"I'm angry about it. But at the same time … I don't know. It's only been a day, We're still dealing with everything" he said. "… We'll bounce back OK."

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