(CN) – The mother of a man who murdered his wife and then committed suicide was properly denied guardianship of the couple’s children, because the man’s last-minute will designating his mother as guardian is not valid, the Nebraska Court of Appeals ruled.
The appeals court agreed with the trial court that the parents of the murdered wife would provide better structure and loving support for the children, and that her brother should be the conservator for similar reasons.
In February 2008, Chris McDowell murdered his wife and then committed suicide, making orphans out of their two young children.
In ruling that McDowell’s will – executed four days before the killings – has no legal basis, the appeals court cited a state law that makes a spouse who commits homicide ineligible for benefits under the will.
The court concluded that appointment of the guardian is ultimately dependent on the best interests of the children, and the McDowell children have established lives, and a web of family support with their mother’s immediate and extended family all living nearby.