Father kills 5 children, self in WA. www.privateofficer.com
Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer called the crime scene the worst he has seen in his nine years with the sheriff’s office.
“One could only hope they were all asleep when this happened,” Troyer said of the children.
The children, ages 7 through 16, were found dead late Saturday afternoon after a relative saw one of the victims through a window at their home in the Deer Run mobile-home park. The 7-year-old was a boy and the girls were 16, 13, 11 and 14 or 15, Troyer said.
The father’s body had been found earlier Saturday in a still-running car near the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn. He had apparently killed himself with a rifle, but left no note in the car, Auburn Police Sgt. Scott Near said.
Troyer said investigators believe the children were killed by their father and Troyer described the killings as a domestic-violence case.
“There’s nothing that leads us to believe it wasn’t gunshot wounds and it wasn’t the father,” Troyer said.
Said Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor: “This was not a tragedy. It was a rotten murder. Five innocent kids lost their lives.”
Penny Slanasburg and Tammy Dettwiler, both of Tacoma, who identified themselves as aunts of the children’s mother, arrived at the mobile-home park Saturday night. They identified the father as James Harrison and the mother as Angela Harrison, and said the couple had been together since Angela was 13.
The children were Maxine, Samantha, Jamie, Heather and James Harrison, they said.
They said Angela works at Wal-Mart and James was a diesel mechanic.
Angela Harrison was with the sheriff’s department chaplain Saturday evening, but then went to stay with a family member.
Troyer and neighbors said the couple argued loudly late Friday night or early Saturday morning, and the mother left by herself.
Troyer said four of the children were found in bedrooms and one in a bathroom of a home in the 20400 block of 135th Avenue Court East. He said the sheriff’s office would be in touch with Orting School District officials and counselors would be made available to classmates of the children on Monday. He said they attended various schools.
Carolyn and Raymond Bader, who used to live across from the home where the children were found, said they often heard the father screaming and yelling at the children.
The Baders said they called the sheriff’s department and Child Protective Services several times with concerns about the family.
“We did all we could to help these kids,” Raymond Bader said tonight. “We tried to protect these kids. We did what we could.”
Carolyn Bader said a friend had called her with the news of the deaths.
“I couldn’t believe he’d actually done it. Do I think he was capable of it? Sure,” she said, referring to the father. “It just shocks me. I’m totally shocked. What could five children do that was so bad? I can’t imagine what would go through someone’s head to make them do something like this.”
Dale Lund, another neighbor in the mobile-home park, said the boy who was killed played at times with his grandson and the two shared the same school-bus stop. The boys attended elementary school together, Lund said.
The slain children played in their own yard most of the time, he said.
“They pretty much kept to themselves over there,” Lund said of the family.
Lund’s wife, Sheree Lund, said, “We’re tore up. We’re just tore up. Why the kids, you know?”
Lund said the father was considered by neighbors to be “plenty mean” and he “kept a real tight rein on the kids.”
Mary Ripplinger, another neighbor, said her children played with the boy who died. “They played tag. They played ball,” she said.
Since learning of the killings, Ripplinger said, her five children, ages 6 to 19, keep asking: “How could he do this? How could he do this?
“I didn’t know what to tell them,” Ripplinger said, breaking into tears. “It’s not fair. It’s not right at all.”
Pastor said the killings represented the worst single-incident slayings in unincorporated Pierce County’s history.
The incident is among the worst Western Washington mass slayings.
Last September, Isaac L. Zamora went on a shooting rampage that began in Alger in Skagit County that left six people dead and four wounded.
On Christmas Eve of 2007, six family members were shot and killed at their home in Carnation. Michele Kristen Anderson and her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, are charged with murdering Anderson’s parents, her brother and his wife and two children, ages 3 and 5.
In July 2006, a Kirkland woman and her two children, ages 3 and 5, and the woman’s sister were slain in her home. A neighbor, Conner Schierman, has been charged in the slayings and could face the death penalty if he is convicted.
In March 2006, Kyle Huff, 28, shot and killed six people and wounded two others in a Capitol Hill house where a rave after-party had taken place. After the rampage, Huff fatally shot himself.
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