June 1902, near Hazlehurst MS, my great-grandaunt Mary McFatter Westrope suffered a psychotic break and killed her five eldest children in the barn. She then set fire to her house, killing her infant daughter, Nellie.
When she was captured, she initially did not know what she had done and was reportedly devastated. Her husband took her to an asylum in Natchez MS, then took her to a hotel in Greenville, MS. On September 8, 1902, Mary escaped from their hotel and drowned herself in the Mississippi River. When questioned as to why she killed her children, Mary said she had become overwhelmed with fears that her children would be orphaned (even though both she and her husband were still alive) and thus be mistreated, so she killed them to spare them this fate.
I had a horrible thought develop recently. Mary's sister-in-law was my great-grandmother, Allie Tanksley. Allie's own mother was orphaned young and raised by an aunt and uncle. I wonder if she had suffered some kind of abuse or neglect, which she had told her daughter Allie about and Allie shared with her sister-in-law Mary. This might have formed the basis for Mary's obsessive, irrational fear that led to her psychosis.