A Howrey intellectual property lawyer was found dead along with her daughters and mother Monday in an apparent murder-suicide.
Associate Elizabeth Fontaine, her two daughters and her mother were killed on the same day that a California judge gave temporary custody of the girls to an aunt, according to the Los Angeles Times’ L.A. Now blog and the Associated Press. Authorities are conducting forensics tests to determine who pulled the trigger.
Howrey confirmed that Elizabeth Fontaine was a Howrey employee in a firm-wide email yesterday. The email, plus AN UPDATE, after the jump.
The following email was sent out to all Howrey personnel by Robert F. Ruyak, managing partner and CEO of the firm:
My Dear Friends,
We are deeply saddened to learn that one of our associates, Elizabeth Hoult Fontaine, her mother and two daughters were found dead in a home in San Clemente, California yesterday.
Elizabeth had been with the firm in our Irvine office since 2005 and had recently transferred, at her request, to the firm’s Houston office. She was a talented lawyer who was advancing quickly in her career at Howrey. Elizabeth was an intelligent, caring person. We will all feel her loss deeply as our friend and colleague.
Please remember Elizabeth and her family in your prayers, and remember too, her Howrey family, particularly those in Irvine and Houston, who are struggling to deal with this enormous, unfathomable tragedy.
We will provide more information as it becomes available.
Some information about the investigation, from L.A. Now:
Officials are investigating the slayings as part of a child-custody dispute. The family was visiting Orange County for a hearing Monday during which Superior Court Judge Thomas H. Shulte gave temporary custody of the two daughters to an aunt, and the mother [Elizabeth Fontaine] was instructed to return the next day, according to court records.
The investigation is ongoing.
UPDATE: From CBS News / the AP:
Orange County Sheriff’s deputies believe that Texas attorney Elizabeth Fontaine may have been so distraught over a custody dispute that she killed her two young daughters, her mother and herself on Monday, but they are not willing to say for sure who pulled the trigger until a ballistics report is complete.
We will keep you posted.
FURTHER UPDATE: It now appears that Fontaine’s mother may have pulled the trigger, according to law enforcement authorities.
Howrey Associate, Family Members Found Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide [ABA Journal]
Mother in San Clemente murder-suicide had just lost custody of young daughters [L.A. Now / Los Angeles Times]