SAN ANTONIO – A 12-year-old boy who discovered his mother and father dead in an apparent murder-suicide at a South Side mobile home park Thursday will likely be haunted by what he saw, said an expert who helps traumatized victims of crime.
“It would be like going into a war zone and seeing something that just exploded,” said Rosemary Coates, senior clinical director at the Children’s Shelter Harvey E. Najim Hope Center. “It would be horrible for him to recall, but he would still see it in his brain and his mind and behind his heart.”
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said the boy had gone in to check on his mother while his siblings and her co-worker waited for her to retrieve some items after she had left her husband the night before.
Coates and her staff help traumatized crime victims, many of them children at the outpatient mental health care center adjacent to the Children’s Shelter.
"The adjustment takes a very long time for them. There's no magic wand. It takes a lot of work, a lot of caring," Coates said.
Coates said the boy may experience nightmares, be unable to talk about the incident or not even recall what he saw until later. He may also try to blame himself.
San Antonio police said the boy and his siblings are now with family members. The boy was the oldest of the siblings and the youngest was 5-years-old.
Coates said well-intentioned family members can only do so much in a case like this.
“That’s when you have to call in the professionals,” she said, such as the Children’s Bereavement Center and Family Violence Prevention Services. Coates said at this point, there’s a 50% chance that the boy will be able to go forward.
“But the other half is he may never let go of what he saw,” Coates said.