A 28-year-old Mississippi man with a lengthy criminal record and previous accusations of domestic violence has been accused of a mass murder in Citronelle, Alabama, on Aug. 20.
Derrick Dearman, the suspect, is accused of murdering the five-member family his girlfriend was staying with, reports The Daily Beast.
It’s the worst mass shooting in Alabama since the March 2009 Geneva County Massacre, in which Michael McLendon killed 10 people, including his mother, grandparents, an aunt and an uncle.
In the Citronelle case, Dearman’s 24-year-old girlfriend, Laneta Lester, was allegedly hiding from him at the house where he found her with the five victims, who have been identified by authorities as: Robert Lee Brown, 26; Chelsea Marie Reed, who was five months pregnant, 22; Justin Kaleb Reed, 23; Joseph Adam Turner, 27; and Shannon Melissa Randall, 35.
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According to police, Dearman had been abusing Lester, which they say was standard practice for him. One of Lester’s Facebook friends described Dearman succinctly as “a piece of s---.”
His ex-wife, Crystal Dearman, told television station WALA that she divorced him in 2013 after years of abuse, which she said he inflicted upon both her and their children. One one occasion, “I woke up to him holding a knife to my throat in bed with my baby in the crib,” she explained.
Although his motive is unclear, Dearman allegedly tracked down his girlfriend, broke into the house where she was hiding, and killed everyone there except his girlfriend and a 3-year-old child, both of whom he then reportedly kidnapped. Dearman allegedly drove his hostages to his father’s home in Mississippi, where he released them and then turned himself in.
The suspect is currently jailed in Greene County, Mississippi, where he is awaiting extradition to Alabama.
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According to statistics published by The Huffington Post, at least one-third of all female homicide victims in the U.S. are killed by male intimate partners.