A Texas suspect accused of killing six members of a family was voted prom king and class clown during high school, a stark difference to the man police say ruthlessly gunned down four children and their parents last week.
Ronald Haskell, Jr., is charged with six counts of murder after police near Houston say he forced his way into the home of his ex-wife’s sister and then killed family members when they could not tell him where his ex-wife was.
Police say Haskell bound the family members and forced them to lie face-down on the floor, then killed all but 15-year-old Cassidy Stay, who survived by playing dead. She was able to phone police after Haskell left, warning that he could be headed to her grandparents home to kill them as well. Police intercepted Haskell and captured him after a nearly four-hour standoff.
Police have since uncovered a violent past for the Texas suspect, including allegations of domestic abuse from his ex-wife. But those who knew Haskell in his native Eagle River, Alaska, remember him much differently.
At Chugiak High School, the Texas suspect was voted prom king and had a reputation as the class clown.
“He was an older peer that I looked up to, just as a funny red-headed, freckled guy with a good personality,” said Drew Nevitt, 27, a childhood friend who also attended the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with Haskell.
Nevitt remembered the Texas suspect not just as the prom king, but also a standout athlete and popular student. Nevitt described him as “the Chris Farley of Eagle River.”
Those who knew Haskell say they have a hard time understanding what changed so drastically in him.
“For most who knew him then, it is hard to understand how things could have changed so drastically for him to be where he is now,” wrote Carolee Beckham, who went to Chugiak with Haskell, in an email. “He comes from a good family who are the kindest of people. This is all-around a terrible tragedy and a story that is almost hard to believe.”
Other classmates took to social media to share their disbelief at how the Texas suspect went from prom king to accused murderer.