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Main Line murder-suicide case stands out for its rarity

Most murder suicide cases involve male killers and female victims.

Police say Jennair Gerardot (left) shot and killed Meredith Chapman (right) before committing suicide.
Police say Jennair Gerardot (left) shot and killed Meredith Chapman (right) before committing suicide.Read moreInstagram; University of Delaware

The murder-suicide case that unfolded this week on the Main Line stands out for many reasons.

The locale, the love-triangle angle, and the accomplishments of the killer and victim took interest in the case to a higher level. And even in the realm of murder-suicides, the case is especially unusual.

First, a review of the case:

  1. According to police,  Jennair Gerardot, 47, slipped into the Radnor Township home of  Meredith Chapman, 33, lay in wait, and then shot and killed the younger woman before killing herself.

  2. Gerardot's husband, Mark, had been having an affair with Chapman, a former candidate for state senate in Delaware and a University of Delaware executive and instructor who was recently named an assistant vice president at Villanova University, law enforcement officials say. Mark Gerardot also had worked at the University of Delaware.

  3. Police said Jennair Gerardot caught wind of her husband's relationship, and plotted her response in a series of text messages and emails that made her intentions clear.

Unlike most murder-suicides, both the killer and the victim in the Radnor case were women.

According to a 2015 Violence Policy Center study, in 89 percent of murder-suicide cases the killer is male and most likely armed with a gun. In most cases, the killer and the victim, or victims, knew each other, and 72 percent of all cases involved intimate partners.

Kristen Rand, legislative director for the center, said the group is preparing a study on murder-suicides during the first half of 2017.

During that time, the researchers documented 296 suicides — 263 who were male, 19 who were female, and 14 whose gender could not be determined based on the information provided.

"Of the 19 murder-suicides committed by females, 10 of the incidents involved at least one female victim," Rand said via email. "None of the incidents exactly match the circumstances of the case in Philadelphia."