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Mother Kills 3 Children, Herself at Resort Condo

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 31-year-old woman, apparently despondent over having to return her children to the custody of their father in Long Beach, killed herself and her three small daughters this weekend in a $350-a-night resort condominium in posh Indian Wells, authorities said Monday.

The bodies of Terri Lynn Esterak, a Rancho Mirage resident, and her children--9-year-old Erica, 3-year-old Eden and 16-month-old Erin--were found about 12:30 p.m. Monday at the Hyatt Grand Champion Villas, said Riverside Deputy Coroner Lisa Banasiak.

The children, Banasiak said, had spent July with their mother, and were scheduled to be returned this month to the custody of their father, Michael Esterak of Long Beach.

The deputy added that the mother had left a suicide note, but he would not divulge the contents. The father could not be reached for comment.

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Riverside County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Sebastian said the room at the Hyatt had been double-locked when hotel housekeepers arrived to clean it Monday morning.

Security guards opened the door to find the pajama-clad bodies of the three little girls piled on the bed with their mother.

The sergeant said it was unclear what time the shootings occurred because no gunshots were reported by hotel guests.

The woman, he said, had checked into one of the hotel’s most exclusive condominiums on Saturday; hotel employees told police they had not noticed any strange behavior on her part.

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“It’s just terrible,” Sebastian said. “We have acts of violence in our area, but this hits harder because of the nature of the crime and the kids involved.

“We deal with these things in our careers, but . . . it’s really hard,” he said.

Indian Wells is about 110 miles east of Los Angeles.


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