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Mother, daughter in attempted murder-suicide faced many difficulties, neighbors say

Published: Wednesday, March 21 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

West Jordan police investigate a possible murder-suicide attempt at a residence in West Jordan Wednesday, March 21, 2012. A mother allegedly shot her 18-year-old daughter and then turned the gun on herself.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

WEST JORDAN — Mary Hansen and her daughter Virginia were seen very little outside of their West Jordan home.

They were also rarely seen apart.

"They were all each other had, really," friend Audrey Orrillo said. "One wouldn't be without the other. I think they were each other's best friend."

But their quiet West Jordan neighborhood was left stunned Wednesday after an apparent murder-suicide attempt left 18-year-old Virginia dead and Mary — believed to be the shooter — in the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head.

The mother, 53, drove from her home at 8366 S. Bard Lane (1320 West) to the home of a neighbor just down the street and began honking her car horn around 10:50 a.m., said West Jordan Police Sgt. Drew Sanders.

"She was covered in blood and said she'd shot herself and her daughter," he said.

Mary Hansen asked her neighbor to call 911 and then drove back to her home, where police found her. She was transported to the hospital in "very serious" condition, but was later upgraded to critical but stable condition and was expected to recover.

Police indicated it was "likely" she would face prosecution in connection with the shooting.

Orrillo said she lost touch with Mary Hansen about a year ago, but still considers her a close friend. She said the family had financial problems. Hansen was about to lose her home, she said, and was struggling to live on Social Security.

"It doesn't make it right … but sometimes money gets to people," Orrillo said, adding that financial strife was just one of many difficulties Mary Hansen was facing. "I think she just had so much on her plate. She has fibromyalgia. She doesn't have much family. … (She) and her daughter were it for the most part."

According to the Salt Lake County treasurer website, Hansen owed $8,819.62 in delinquent property taxes, which had gone unpaid since 2008.

Police waited to obtain a search warrant before entering the family's home around 2 p.m. The two women were believed to be the only people living in the home and the only ones present at the time of the shooting.

Sanders said the motive for the shooting was unclear. Police have identified the handgun they believe was used in the shooting.

Neighbor Don Bailey said he believed the Hansens came to the neighborhood from California about four years ago. Still, they kept to themselves.

"She was just different," he said of Mary Hansen. "Her health issues kept her away. They were private. They had health issues. What those were, I don't know."

Bailey said it was rare to see either of the women outside, adding that while they were not outgoing or sociable, they were not unfriendly, either. The news of the shooting came as a surprise.

"I was shocked," he said. "It's a terrible thing."

Ron Webb said Virginia Hansen had dropped out of school in the eighth grade and neither she nor her mother worked. Orrillo said Virginia Hansen took online classes, was very quiet and did not have many friends.

"My impression is that they were lonely," Webb said. "They were kind of shut-ins, but there was never any indication that this would happen."

Webb said Virginia Hansen left school due to stress, but added that the two women "seemed totally on top of it" and were always together.

"Mary didn't seem like the kind of person who would maliciously hurt her daughter," Webb said. "It's just totally unexpected.

"I would have envisioned them maybe moving away someday and finding a happier, better life, but nothing like this."

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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