Mother killed in murder-suicide: Father of her children speaks out

Published: Feb. 27, 2019 at 9:50 PM CST
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Chris Hove and the late Ashley Stephens have two children together: a 5- and 4-year-old.

Tuesday, Hove found out Stephens had been killed. Wednesday, he had to tell both kids their mother had died.

"I'm still in shock... I mean, 28 years old — you don't assume that's the news you're going to get that particular day," Hove said.

Police said they believe

by her 61-year-old boyfriend, Jonathan Hartley, who turned the gun on himself moments later. Hartley died Wednesday in the Nebraska Medical Center.

Hove said Stephens told him before about Hartley's depression, but — after asking questions — felt safe when his kids would go to visit.

Hove has custody of the children but said they had planned for the kids to be with Stephens and Hartley the night of the shooting. The recent snowstorm meant they had already spent a week with her, so Hove kept the kids that night to give Stephens some extra time off.

"That look on my son's face when he realized what it meant and that he's never going to see mom again — I don't ever want to see that face again, from anybody." Hove said.

This opens a larger conversation about mental health, Hove said, and he knows after this, his children will always be able to come to him with any problem.

If you would like to help, Hove has set up

. According to the page, donations will go toward the costs of services, a celebration of life, and her children.