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A 34-year-old mother killed herself and her two young boys after her husband threatened to leave her, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

The Tampa Bay Tribune reports that Murphy Brown arrived home early Saturday morning to find his wife, Dawn Brown, and two children dead. Dawn reportedly hanged herself from a bedroom ceiling fan with an electrical cord.

As for the cause of death of the two boys, 9-year-old Zander and 5-year-old Zayden (pictured above), authorities are not releasing any details. But, a friend of the husband reportedly found the boys tucked in their beds. The medical examiner’s office will determine the official cause of death after an autopsy is complete.

William Lavold, Murphy’s neighbor, says the possible murder-suicide has shaken the husband to his core. “He can’t function,” Lavold said. “He can’t figure it out. He’s done in. He’s really done in.”

The couple had been experiencing hard times lately, according to the Tribune.

Dawn didn’t work. And Murphy was struggling to make ends meet repairing cars when he could. Since Friday, the Brown’s electricity had been shut off for days. Their home has been in foreclosure proceedings at least three times since 2002, with the latest being in February. Dawn was charged with welfare fraud on June 8, 2011, under her maiden name of Dawn Michelle Barylski. On Sept. 12, she entered a plea of not guilty to the charge.

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The Tribune has more:

After her arrest, Brown stopped taking the classes she needed to become a teacher.

“It ruined her life,” Lavold said.

“She loved kids so much,” he said. “It’s hard to see now, but she wanted to take care of children. She wanted more kids.”

But Brown couldn’t get a job with a felony arrest on her record, and she withdrew, Lavold said.

“She lived in the house, and didn’t go out and do anything,” he said. “She’d take the kids to school and home; she’d go out for groceries. Mostly, she sat and read books online. That was all she did.”

Now, Murphy Brown can’t bring himself to go home, and he doesn’t have the money to bury his boys.

Lavold and other neighbors are banding together to help. They plan to essentially gut the house and sell off anything of value to pay for the funerals. Everything else will be thrown out, Lavold said.

“We are going to strip the house out,” he said. “We will do whatever we can to turn this house into something different. …It’s the only thing he has left, but he can’t come home to it.”

Neighbors are looking for donations to help with the renovation, including an industrial-sized trash bin and volunteers to help with the work.

Lavold also is collecting donations on his website,

“One-hundred percent of the donations are going to Murphy,” Lavold said.

Of all of the questions connected to this horrible story, there is one that seems to most puzzling to Lavold.

“What we’re not understanding is why she decided to take her children with her,” Lavold said to The Tribune. “Nobody knows. This is what we’ve all been asking. (Murphy) doesn’t know.”

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