Daughter accused of murdering her mom told investigators 'everything goes black' in her memory

GYPSUM, Colo. - The daughter of a teacher found murdered Friday morning told investigators that "everything goes black" in her memory of the shooting.

Eagle County authorities say Penelope "Penny" Sue Cunningham's body was found about 15 miles up Gypsum Creek Road, a remote area outside of Gypsum, about 9 a.m. Friday.  The body -- found by a passerby on the road -- appeared to have multiple gunshot wounds, the sheriff's office said.

Gypsum is about 10 miles west of Eagle, the county seat.

According to the affidavit completed by Eagle County Sheriff's Deputies, detectives that responded to investigate Penelope Cunningham's body described it as bloody and stiff to the touch. They noted frost had accumulated on her jacket.

They found five pistol-sized shell casings around the body and later discovered they matched the ammunition found in Cunningham's home. The case for the pistol that would fire the rounds, however, was empty.

Officers used cell phone "pings," signals sent to trigger a phone to report its location, to find Penelope Cunningham's daughter, Traci. After five attempts, she was found and detained in Lakewood.

The affidavit states Traci Cunningham was later moved back to Eagle County and agreed to speak with a Detective Sergeant. She reportedly explained that she and her mother were on a trip to Grand Junction to hike and take photographs.

"On the way up Gypsum Creek Rd, Traci and Penelope were having a discussion regarding Traci's her [sic] lack of house work and animal care. Traci said that she stopped the car at approximately mile marker 15, Penelope got out of the car and began to walk up the road," the affidavit states.

Traci Cunningham told the sergeant that she also got out and went to the rear of the car to look for some beef jerky, but found the handgun.

"Traci stated that she picked up the handgun, walked up the road, and 'everything goes black,'" the document says.

The next thing the remembered, Traci Cunningham said, was seeing her mother laying on the ground and the handgun in her hand. The affidavit says she told the sergeant that she rolled her mother over and checked for a pulse. She then checked for cell phone service, but found none.

"Traci stated that she then ran back to her friend's car and drove home 'pretending it was all a bad dream,'" the affidavit concludes.

Neighbor Meredith Mills told 7NEWS Traci Cunningham had a history of mental illness.

She appeared in court Monday for an advisement hearing where bond was set at $1 million. A formal filing of charges is due to be delivered by the District Attorney's office on Dec. 10.

Penelope Cunningham was a teacher at Maxwell Elementary School in Montbello. Crisis counselors were there Monday morning for the students and staff.

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