A Virginia mother says she was on the telephone with her young daughter when the child suddenly screamed her last words. Moments later, the girl's father shot and killed her before turning the gun on himself.
Tasha Jonas, 11, was heard shouting, "Daddy, daddy, what are you doing?" seconds before her father, 49-year-old John Jonas, shot and killed her while she was on the telephone with her mother on Monday evening, reports WTKR. He then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide, according to authorities.
Since their divorce, Jonas, an Army Lt. Col., had been engaged in a brutal custody battle with Tasha's mother, Karina Jonas, who lives in Chesapeake. Despite Karina's attempts to convince the court that her ex-husband was prone to violence and unstable, it was determined that the child should live with her father, who moved her to Vine Grove, Kentucky, two years ago, after the Army relocated him to Fort Knox.
In August, a hearing was set where Tasha, who would have been 12, was going to be able to choose which parent she wanted to live with, according to family friend Tanja Manojlovic. Police are waiting for the results of an autopsy and have yet to determine a motive for the murder-suicide, but friends say they believe the ongoing custody battle had everything to do with it.
"When it's all said and done, we all look back and feel like we've all betrayed her in some level," Manojlovic told WTKR. "The system has betrayed her."
Friends of the family have created a GoFundMe page to help with the cost of transporting Tasha back to Virginia for a funeral and burial. The Army doesn't consider Karina a part of Jonas' family since their divorce and will not provide financial assistance for Tasha's burial or help to transport her body, according to friends.
Jonas was reportedly found lying next to his daughter while wearing his uniform, reports the New York Daily News. Tasha was expected to complete fifth grade this month.
"She was very, very well known. She was a kid that everybody enjoyed being around," said Hardin County Schools spokesman John Wright. "She was full of laughter and vigor and just was an enjoyable student, and everybody really, really had a deep heart for her."
Neighbors described Jonas as a protective dad who was always outside doing yard work. He was close to retiring from the Army's Human Resources Command.
Photo Credit: GoFundMe