Sister of man who took his daughter’s life in murder-suicide says he lived a turbulent life

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CUDAHY -- What could have possibly motivated a father to kill his two-year-old daughter, before turning the gun on himself? That is the question many are asking after a murder-suicide in Cudahy early Friday, January 1st.

Brett Hartman's sister is genuinely heartbroken and angry about what her brother did. She says she could never justify him taking her niece's life.

At the same time, she is having difficulty separating her brother's last actions from the boy she grew up with.

She says their childhood was turbulent, to say the least.

"This girl was full of life," Victoria Hartman said.


Pictures of two-year-old Skylar Hartman with her big smile are painful for Victoria Hartman to look at.

"It's not fair to her. So people that are angry about it, you're right," Victoria Hartman said.

Victoria Hartman

Victoria Hartman

Victoria Hartman never met her niece, and she hadn't seen her adopted brother Brett in a couple of years.

Police say 27-year-old Brett Hartman shot Skylar and then himself.

Police responded to the home on Whittaker Avenue around 1:30 a.m. Friday, and found Skylar suffering from a gunshot wound.

Brett Hartman, was pronounced dead at the house. Skylar was pronounced dead at Children's Hospital.

"It just felt like a giant kick in your stomach," Victoria Hartman said.

Brett Hartman as a child (in the black outfit)

Brett Hartman as a child (in the black outfit)

Victoria Hartman says their childhood was a turbulent one, and getting together brought back painful memories.

"We love our brother and it really sucks that he did this, because that's not who he was," Victoria Hartman said.

This sister says her brother was adopted into their family of 12 children when he was about eight years old. She says he came from a very violent home.

She says her brother's new life with his new family was also a tumultuous one.

"Kids were really, really mean to our family -- just because we had multicultural going on in our home," Victoria Hartman said.

Cudahy murder-suicide

She says her brother tried therapy and medications, but they didn't help.

She says he was a sensitive kid, who tried to stick up for his sisters, but he was too small.

Victoria Hartman says others in their family now struggle with psychological issues, and she regrets losing touch with him.

"What happened with Brett shouldn't have happened," Victoria Hartman said.

Memorial at scene of murder-suicide in Cudahy

Memorial at scene of murder-suicide in Cudahy

She says Brett Hartman is the only one who really knows why this happened, but she thinks his painful past may be one factor.

"We love Brett and we're not trying to cause more pain for those people that lost that little girl," Victoria Hartman said.

Hartman did not want to go into too much detail about their childhood for the sake of her family. She says they have been on the receiving end of some vicious comments and phone calls.

She says if there is anything to learn from this, it is to reach out to those in our lives who might be struggling before it's too late.

Skylar was just about to turn three years old when she was killed.

Skylar Hartman

Skylar Hartman


  • ?

    Another innocent child gone to soon, she is a beautiful little angle in heaven, God bless your family and friends so sorry for your loss.
    The sad thing sis even if the family wanted to reach out if the man refused treatment he wouldn’t have to get it. Its a sad but true fact I know first hand

  • Gary Hamilton

    It was brought out in an article yesterday a family member mentioned suicide several times in the past and also that he would murder this child .. Fox 6 wouldn’t post my comment yesterday because I imagine they felt it wasn’t politically correct. Any one who heard him mention he wanted to kill his daughter is partly responsible for her death because they were too incompetent to contact the authorities!

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