April 26, 2005
Note: One or more of the following articles may require a subscription to view the entire article. We cannot post articles that require a subscription. We are sorry for the inconvenience.
becomes a trap
2 Sons Shot To Death
Germany's new 'great depression'
WOMAN SHOOTS TWO SONS, SELF IN SPRINGS MOTHER, ONE BOY DEAD SECOND TEEN IN CRITICAL CONDITION.
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO); 4/25/2005; Poppen, Julie
COLORADO SPRINGS -- A mother shot one son to death, critically injured another, then killed herself not long after being seen at a hospital for threatening suicide.
Neighbors and friends identified the woman as Julie Rifkin, 41. A friend found Rifkin and her 12-year-old son Gabriel dead inside the family's yellow ranch-style home Sunday morning. Nathan Rifkin, 14, was listed in critical condition at Memorial Hospital and was not expected to survive.
Family friend John Langley, a retired Air Force attorney, said that a neighbor called police to the home in the 4300 block of Delighted Circle South on Friday evening.
Paramedics took Rifkin to Memorial Hospital for threatening suicide.
Langley said she was released later that night.
Friends and neighbors said that Rifkin, a deeply religious woman, struggled with depression. Rifkin told at least one friend that she took medications for bipolar and attention-deficit disorders.
"I don't understand it," said neighbor and friend Henry Wafer, whose daughter played with the Rifkin boys and other children on their block. "It's such a tragic thing.
"I knew she was depressed. Everyone in the neighborhood knew she was depressed, but not to that point."
Friends said that Julie Rifkin's personal demons intensified when her husband, Don, was laid off from his computer job at MCI a year or so ago.
Unable to find a job locally, the 47-year-old parks and recreation coach and outdoorsman took a job with Blue Cross Blue Shield in South Carolina, making only periodic visits home.
Wafer said that Rifkin had a hard time being on her own.
"My wife died three years ago. It's just so hard," Wafer said.
"She didn't show it. She didn't want the kids to see. I've been there. He was her world."
To help make ends meet, Julie Rifkin was working in the bookstore of a ministerial organization, The Navigators. She was laid off Friday.
"My guess would be the pressure just built and built and she couldn't find a way to navigate," said New Life Church Senior Pastor Ted Haggard. "It's horrible."
Haggard has known the Rifkins for years. His children attended school with the Rifkin brothers at Evangelical Christian Academy. He said that Julie Rifkin volunteered at the school to defray the cost.
But apparently the financial burden was too much and the boys changed schools this year, Haggard said.
Haggard said that Julie Rifkin was a former volunteer at New Life, but most recently the family attended Church for All Nations.
Haggard said he hadn't seen Julie Rifkin for nine months.
"Most of the years I knew her, her husband was gainfully employed and she was around with her boys," Haggard said.
"The past year or year and a half of pressure has been incredible on them."
Haggard said that Rifkin told his wife that she was taking medications for bipolar disorder and ADD.
Langley, too, was aware of Rifkin's struggles with mental illness. He said his wife, Tricia, drove Rifkin home from the hospital Friday night.
Tricia Langley talked to Rifkin late Saturday night on the phone and didn't pick up any signs of the impending tragedy.
It was Tricia Langley who found the bodies, Langley said.
She arrived at the Rifkin house about 7:45 a.m. to pick up Julie for a trip to La Junta, where Tricia was to fill in for a minister friend, Langley said.
When nobody answered the door, Tricia went inside, finding Julie and her younger son dead of gunshot wounds in upstairs bedrooms and Gabe clinging to life downstairs, Langley said.
Don Rifkin was traveling home after learning of the deaths, friends said.
"He was crazy about the boys," Langley said, noting that Rifkin taught his sons to play soccer and would take them camping. "They were pals in addition to being father and sons."
Langley remembered Nathan and Gabriel as "very fine young men."
"Unlike most of youth today, they were very good boys," Langley said. "They were polite, the type you would be proud of. They were very intelligent and made good grades in school."
COPYRIGHT 2005 Rocky Mountain News. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the Dialog Corporation by Gale Group.