While her ex held her and her family at gunpoint, Valerie Jackson sent one text to her mother. Since the woman lived states away from her daughter’s home in Houston, there was only one thing she could do — call 911.
Sadly, by then, it was too late. Jackson, her husband, Dwayne, and her six children (Nathaniel, Honesty, Dwayne Jr., Caleb, Trinity, and Jonah) — aged 13 to 6 — had been shot in the head, allegedly by Nathaniel’s father, David Conley.
Neighbor and friend Kathy Sysongkim was in disbelief, according to KHOU.
“You killed the kids, why? Why? They didn’t do anything. They were good kids. It’s not one or two, it’s eight in the family. It’s terrible.”
Now, Sysongkim’s neighbors are remembering all the hints of violence in the Houston home, and wondering why police didn’t react sooner when it was clear something had happened there Saturday, the Associated Press reported.
Conley appeared in court Monday to face three capital murder charges. The state’s prosecutor, Alysia Harvey, had a difficult time as she outlined the charges against him.
“As a citizen of Harris County, as a mother, anytime you hear about anything that’s this heinous, anytime you hear about the death of this many children in a single event, it is hard… And it’s, it’s hard.”
It’s not clear when Valerie texted her mother, or at what point Saturday she and her entire family were shot, execution style. But neighbors have said that police arrived at the home twice that day, knocked on the door, then left.
David Conley charged with 8 murder counts, including 1 for a person under 6 years old, in Harris County, Texas - S… pic.twitter.com/2YGcOfFMiI— SavageNation (@SavageNation) August 9, 2015
Child Protective Services also had its eye on the family, and Conley had a violent criminal history, including assault charges for pushing Valerie’s head against a fridge last month, and aggravated assault for threatening her with a knife. He served time in jail for the second charge.
According to police, Conley’s behavior had gotten bad enough for the family to change the locks on their doors, but authorities believe he entered through the house via a window; he reportedly used to live there.
Once inside, he handcuffed all eight family members, and at one point, shot each in the head. Some were shot multiple times.
Once the fateful text was sent and Jackson’s mother notified police, they arrived to spot the body of a child through a window at the Houston home. They tried to get in, but someone fired at officers. A standoff followed for several hours before the suspect surrendered.
“We do not — cannot — fully comprehend the motivation of an individual that would take the lives of so many innocent people. Especially the lives of the young ones,” said Chief Deputy Tim Cannon of the Harris County sheriff’s office, according to the AP. “The killer’s motives appear to be related to a dispute with Valerie, who was his former domestic partner.”
Despite their shock, people in this Houston neighborhood aren’t completely surprised. Carlos Sanchez, who lived across the street, caught Nathaniel — the eldest boy and Conley’s son — running away one night. A woman who lived next door, Vilma Flores, often saw the kids playing outside alone.
Nathaniel’s friend, Romello Broussard, gives perhaps the most chilling testimony that hints at troubles inside the Jackson home.
“He would come outside sad. I be asking him like, ‘Why are you sad?’ And he would be like, ‘Oh, my step daddy did this to my momma.’ I got the text message this morning and I thought everybody was playing about him being dead. That’s when everybody just start blowing up my phone, talking about he dead. And I just started crying right there.”
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]