A mother who shot her two children before killing herself in a Texas welfare office was found a year ago with a gun on a beach and told authorities her children were bathing at a gas station, according to a police report released Wednesday.
Rachelle Grimmer was also found with food stamps, a New York driver's license and said her family was staying on the beach "as a learning experience," according to a September 2010 report filed by a Kleberg County sheriff's deputy.
Grimmer's children, 12-year-old Ramie and 10-year-old Timothy, died from their gunshot wounds days after a Dec. 5 standoff in a Texas Department of Health and Human Services building in Laredo. Grimmer, 38, had applied there for food stamps but was denied.
"I asked her why she had the weapon, Grimmer told me that she carried for protection while traveling," Kleberg County sheriff's deputy Robert Wright wrote in the report. "The weapon was returned to her. Ms. Grimmer told me that they would be fine because they were just on vacation."
Authorities visited Grimmer on the beach after receiving a concerned call about the children's welfare.
Wright told Grimmer he was concerned about the children's well-being. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services sent an investigator that same day to interview Grimmer but ultimately did not intervene with the family.
Patrick Crimmins, an agency spokesman, said Wednesday the investigator verified that Grimmer had $700 in Ohio food stamps and that she claimed to be receiving more than $500 a month in child support. He has said that generally speaking, there may be no cause for the state to intervene if the children appear to be well fed, cared for and don't show obvious signs of abuse.
"There are no concerns noted about the children in our documentation," Crimmins said. "They were fully-clothed. Law enforcement documented they were registered for home-schooling through Ingleside (school district). The family appeared to have adequate food."
Yet that same day, Grimmer apparently gave the deputy and child welfare worker conflicting stories. She told Wright the family was vacationing from New York, but hours later, allegedly told the child welfare investigator they came from Ohio. Crimmins said there's no record of New York in the agency's records.
Wright said the family had a small ice chest with lunch meat and bread. When asked where the kids were bathing, Grimmer allegedly told the deputy they cleaned themselves in the bay and at a gas station.
The report from the rural Texas coastal county shed more light on the wayward, impoverished Grimmer family, who appeared to spend their last years crisscrossing the country before winding up in a rundown camper on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Grimmer's former mother-in-law in Montana has said Grimmer had a history of mental problems. Neighbors in the Laredo trailer park, meanwhile, described Grimmer as intelligent and compassionate.
Yet the Kleberg County report was the second this week to note Grimmer's strange behavior. In June, Grimmer walked into the Corpus Christi police department to report that her ex-husband was connected with the Ku Klux Klan and a gang known as MS13, according to a report obtained under an open records request.
Grimmer feared those groups were stalking her, the report said. The officer wrote that "in talking with Grimmer it was evident that she may be mentally challenged." The report went on to say that concern for the children was raised "because of Grimmer's obvious mental issues."
The Kleberg County report described Grimmer as edgy and paranoid. She allegedly wasn't convinced the deputy was a law enforcement officer despite his uniform and became "abusive" when asked to show her driver's license.
State officials say Grimmer's application for food stamps this summer was rejected because she never submitted proof of income, such as how much child support she was receiving.
Associated Press Writer Christopher Sherman in McAllen, Texas, contributed to this report.