Bernadine Pruessner: Missouri Mom Set Mattress on Fire Killing Her Four Kids and Herself Hours After Leaving Haunting Final Facebook Post

Firefighters from four municipalities were called to tackle the intense blaze, forcing them to retreat multiple times due to its strength.

A Missouri teacher took her own life and that of her four young children by setting a mattress on fire shortly after she posted online that the kids were "peacefully sleeping" in her bed. Bernadine Pruessner and her children—twins Ellie and Ivy Pruessner, 9, Jackson Spader, 5, and Millie Spader, 2 — all perished in the fire at their home in Ferguson on Monday morning.

Preliminary investigations indicate that it was a murder-suicide, according to St. Louis County Police Department spokesperson Sergeant Tracy Panus, reported. "It is believed that Bernadine intentionally set a mattress on fire as that was the point of origin for the fire," the office announced.

Custody Battle Ends in Tragedy

Bernadine Pruessner
Bernadine Pruessner with her four kids who were all killed in the house fire set by set Facebook

"A note was also left stating Bernadine's intentions to take her life and the lives of her children," the statement read, without elaborating on the contents of the note.

Pruessner's last Facebook post was on the evening of February 19, just hours before the fatal fire. In her post, she mentioned that her children were "peacefully sleeping in (her) bed."

Bernadine Pruessner
Bernadine Pruessner's three kids who were killed in the suspicious fire Facebook

"All my kids, peacefully sleeping in my bed...Knowing they are loved so fiercely that I'd do absolutely anything for them," she wrote. "This is my favorite moment."

A neighbor woke up a little after 4:30 am and noticed the glow of flames through his window. He rushed to the family's home, banging on the door to alert them, while his wife called 911. Some neighbors said they did not hear smoke detectors.

Firefighters from four municipalities were called to tackle the intense blaze, forcing them to retreat multiple times due to its strength.

After finding evidence of criminal activity, the Ferguson Police Department sought the assistance of the St. Louis County Bureau of Crimes Against Persons to assume control of the investigation.

Twins Ellie and Ivy, who lost their lives in the fire, were fourth-graders at Mason Ridge Elementary School. The Parkway School District informed parents of the 'sad news' through a letter.

The district revealed that a crisis intervention team would convene with each fourth-grade class to help students in beginning to process their emotions.

The fire also claimed the lives of three family dogs. However, around 14 rabbits, three chickens, and two cats survived as they were located on a separate part of the property.

Disturbed Life

On Sunday, the Lewis & Clark Community College professor posted a smiling selfie featuring the young brood.

Bernadine Pruessner
Bernadine Pruessner with her kids GoFundMe

"Us against the world. I'm so blessed to be their mama," she captioned the photo.

"Making today one of those live each day like it's your last kind of days!" Pruessner also wrote, while detailing her plans to take the children to a soccer game and a reptile show.

At the time of her death, Pruessner was in an "awful place" as mentioned by her loved ones on GoFundMe, attributing it to "ongoing litigation" with her ex-husband and the father of her twin daughters.

Pruessner and her ex-husband, David Pruessner, divorced in 2017 and maintained joint custody of Ivy and Ellie until the previous year. In court records, it was revealed that David filed to block Pruessner from relocating around 10 miles away to the St. Louis suburb of Creve Coeur.

Although the new home would be closer to him, David was concerned about his ex-wife's proximity to her mother, whom she had reportedly described as "psychotic," according to the documents.

"The first cast that I've ever had where the parent objected to the other parent moving closer to the other parent," Bernadine Pruessner's lawyer, Nathan Cohen, told The New York Post.

Pruessner was also embroiled in a custody battle with her ex-boyfriend, Jared Spader, who was the father of Jackson and Millie.

"[David and Jared] coordinated their efforts," Cohen claimed.

"She saw her children being used by their fathers as foils and she viewed the process and system for resolution of that those claims as cumbersome, tedious and never ending," the mom of four's family's statement read.

Bernadine Pruessner
A firefighter seen trying to douse the fire after Bernadine Pruessner set her home ablaze killing her four kids and herself X

"Each day that Birdie would score a step forward, her ex-husband and or her former boyfriend would undertake an action to denigrate or undermine her role as a mother," they added.

However, Cohen said that he never suspected that his client, who received the Missouri Teacher of the Year Award from the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence in 2013, posed a danger to herself or her children.

"It's really strange," he said of the murder-suicide ruling.

"This entire week I've been asking my staff, did I miss it? She was one of the rare clients you get in family law that is not only upbeat, but was not putting on a show," he added.

As of Thursday, the GoFundMe set up by Pruessner's relatives had amassed over $12,000, surpassing its initial goal of $15,000.