What should have been a happy Father’s Day turned into a nightmare when one man in rural Virginia reportedly shot dead his wife and two young children that evening, before committing suicide.
Barry Jernigan, 35, allegedly gunned down his wife, Renotta Jernigan, 30, his stepdaughter Alexis Kellas, 9, and the couple’s 2-year-old son, Seth – who was in his crib at the time he was fatally shot, reports the Daily News.
Jernigan then reportedly turned the same gun on himself and ended his own life.
Renotta and her daughter were able to escape, but collapsed in their front yard. Renotta, Jernigan, and Seth were pronounced dead at the scene of the crime, while Alexis died at the hospital.
Jernigan’s family and neighbors say they were shocked when they heard the news. His father, Barry Jernigan, told ABC News he spoke to his son earlier that day and that he wished him a happy Father’s Day and confirmed he would be hanging out at home until he went to work that night. He said he knew his son was having financial troubles for roughly 10 years, but he never expected anything like this to happen. The man’s employer is reportedly responsible for calling cops after he received what he called a “threatening and possibly suicidal in nature” phone call from Jernigan.
Investigators have recently uncovered more details about the man, his family life and his possible motive for committing this heinous murder-suicide. Renotta’s friend, Courtney Winn, says the mom was fed up with Barry’s inability to hold down a steady job and told him she wanted a divorce just eight days before the murder, reports Fox 8.
Jernigan also reportedly sent out a series of bizarre and troubling emails, texts and Facebook posts. He allegedly sent a text to Winn that read, “Hating her is the only way I can breathe on my own. I guess I can say is that I love to hate her and hate loving her.”
The troubled man posted a Facebook message prior to the murders that read, “Just pray for my kids they understand.” His last work email read, “God give me the strength to do this.”