In what police believe is a case of familicide, a Texas woman’s ex-husband shot her and shot and killed their three children, the woman’s boyfriend, and then turned the gun on himself. The ex-wife and mother, Amanda Lee Simpson is hospitalized and the only survivor of the quadruple murder and suicide. She posted a Facebook Live video from her hospital bed Wednesday evening.
According to the Dallas News, the area medical examiner released identities for two of the dead: 39-year-old Justin Painter of Fort Worth and 29-year-old Seth Richardson of Lancaster, S.C. The former Simpson’s ex-husband and latter her boyfriend. Simpson goes by the name Ams Lucas on her social media.
The couple was married in 2012, records located by the paper show and local media reported they couple’s divorce was final in March.
The horror unfolded in the town of Ponder, about 50 miles north-west of Dallas Wednesday morning May 16. According to authorities, police and fire officials were called to a home on the 600 block of Lone Star Park at around 8:30 a.m. The call to the Ponder Volunteer Fire Department, it was reported by local media, was for a self-inflicted gunshot victim and they were told to expect multiple victims. Police said their call was for a “possible murder in progress.”
Upon arrival, all responders found the disturbing scene with six people shot, including three children.
The news of the shooting was first released in a post on the Facebook page of the Ponder Volunteer Fire Department, that post was later removed at the request of the local sheriff’s department, reports the Denton Record-Chronicle.
At the scene, cops could be seen combing through a red Ford Focus with South Carolina tags that parked out in front of the home.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Say Painter Shot & Killed His Three Young Children
#NEW: Vigil tonight at 7:30pm for three children (pictured), man — killed in apparent murder-suicide in Ponder. The children’s mother says their father killed them. @CBSDFWpic.twitter.com/p2UVXTsnWw
Capt. Orlando Hinojosa of the Denton County Sheriff’s Department said it appeared the children’s father, Painter, shot and killed his three children, toddlers and pre-school age youngsters, shot his ex-wife, her boyfriend and then shot himself.
Twitter/Valerie WigglesworthDenton County Sheriff’s Capt. Orlando Hinojosa
KWTX reports that that local school superintendent Bruce Yeager said that no children from that address were registered in the school district.
Facebook commenters confirmed and qualified that: “Ponder ISD sent an email to parents stating that the address didn’t belong to any students of the schools. Doesn’t mean there weren’t kids but the weren’t enrolled in Ponder at that address. That was basically all the email said, guessing that’s all they could be allowed to confirm.”
2. Sole Survivor Says ‘You Don’t Want to See What I See When I Close My Eyes’
Wednesday afternoon on one of her Facebook pages, using an assumed name, ‘Ams Lucas,’ (she also has pages for her maiden and married names) Amanda posted a Facebook Live video from the hospital where she described what happened and she shares a photo of her three children.
She describes her injury, a bullet under the shoulder blade, broken ribs and a broken a bone in her neck, she says.
“…every time I close my eyes, I see my babies …I see them dead.”
In the video, she blamed the judge who handled her and Painter’s divorce for not acknowledging what she said was her ex-husband’s instability and previous suicide attempt.
“I just wanna say I’m mad at the judge …Justin tried to commit suicide a year ago and I made it very clear to the judge that he was mentally unstable and he didn’t, listen so now, I don’t have my babies…they were my everything, my purpose to breathe.”
She goes on to say she doesn’t know how she will afford to bury her children. “I know that should be the last thing on my mind.” She says they’ll be cremated “and kept by my side.”
Sobbing in the video post, she said, “You never think you’ll lose a child …I just don’t know what to do. I don;t know how to act. I’m at a loss.”
She said hospital staff want her to sleep but she doesn’t want to close her eyes, she said. “Every time I close my eyes, you guys don’t want to know what I see.”
3. Justin Painter Wrote on His Facebook he Was in a ‘Complicated Relationship’ & Said ‘She’s Worth Fighting For’
Featuring photos of his children as well, Painter said in October of 2017 that ‘she’s worthfighting for,’ presumably about his then wife. A friend advised him to “Take it slow and steady, give and take and you won’t suffer my fate.” To which Painter replied, “It’s going to be a long hard road, but she is worth the time and effort.”
His friends words then, 31 weeks ago: “I wish you both the best of luck hopefully all goes well.”
From Lamar, Colorado, he lived in Fort Worth, worked at a Walgreens, studied at Tarrant County College and Northeastern State University. He was a Star Wars aficionado and his profile and other pictures show him in Star Wars costumes. But he also posted many images of his children and then wife.
‘My wonderful husband …and our beautiful babies,” Amanda wrote on his 2014 Facebook post.
4. Neighbors React to the Unfathomable. One, Who Saw a Man Walking With Small Children Before the Slaughter Said, ‘Why Didn’t I Sense That Something Was Going to Happen?’
A neighbor, Mary Jean Dennis, told the Denton Record-Chronicle that she saw a man walking with three children towards the house on the morning of the shooting, less than 10 minutes before police were called. Dennis said she thought the children were between the ages of three and six. Dennis said, “I walked passed all three of the kids, and they said ‘Good morning’ and just looked at me. Had I known a man was going to go in there and do that I would have stopped. And I’m thinking why did I not know? Why didn’t I sense that something was going to happen?” Dennis added that she didn’t hear any gunshots.
Another neighbor, Dianna Booker, said in an interview with the Star-Telegram that she didn’t know … but that she “felt like [she] lived in a safe neighborhood.” Booker added that she didn’t know if the home was owned or rented.
Tow trucks are taking away cars at the scene. No word if they belong to the suspect or the people who died at the house. pic.twitter.com/KIvohjNYly
Denton County Mobile Operations Center leaving crime scene in Ponder neighborhood where 3 kids, ex- wife’s boyfriend killed in murder – suicide by ex-husband who turned gun on himself – lone survivor – his ex-wife – is hospitalized pic.twitter.com/LdV10ewtBZ
The Denton County Mobile Operations Center was seen leaving crime scene late Wednesday afternoon.
5. Family Annihilators Are Not Common But Often Enough For Forensic Profiles to Have Been Created
In a 2017 report by The Independent, family annihilators were studied. The crime is at once unfathomable and shocking and since inexpiable “explain it away as random acts of lunacy.” But there are markers, flags, similarities and profiles and often what might be dismissed as empty threats, are sometimes not. Godfrey Holmes reports that it’s often the case that a family annihilator commits murder and suicide and in those cases, there are “common features,” including they’re often but not always men who may feel isolated physically or psychologically and may have mental health issues or a “perceived isolation within the family.”
Holmes said they are often are consumed with anger and/or hatred or bear a grudge, especially when there is “expulsion from the home, threatened separation,” a partner’s alleged infidelity, and use “instruments of death” that carry more violence like a gun or cutting weapon.
The family annihilator, Holmes said, chooses a time when the whole family is together and among other factors, “the killer dies during or following his act of family annihilation” so as to be “pitied rather than blamed: ‘Poor soul;’ “Moment of madness;” and “Wonderful dad.”