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 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.
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.
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.
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.