Houston, TX-Prosecutors say the Texas gunman, who executed members of his estranged spouse’s family, was previously jailed for domestic violence and believe distress over his divorce drove him to commit his heinous crime.
On Wednesday evening, Ronald Haskell forcibly entered a suburban home in where his estranged wife’s family lived. According to the Associated Press, Haskell tied up Katie Stay, her husband Stephen Stay and their five children ranging in age from 4 years-old to 15 years-old and pressed them to disclose his ex-wife’s location, which police said was out of state. When they refused, he shot each one of them in the back of the head.
Cassidy Stay, 15, the only survivor of the shooting called police who arrived to find Haskell sitting in his car in a cul-de-sac near the Stay home. The young woman told police Haskell was headed to her grandparents’ house to cause them harm, as well. After a 25 minute low-speed car chase and three-hour standoff, Haskell was taken into custody and charged with six counts of capital murder.
In their investigation to determine why Haskell committed such an atrocious crime, police discovered he had a history of abusing his ex-wife Melanie Haskell.
In 2008, Haskell was arrested and jailed in Utah where the couple lived on charges of assault and domestic violence, the Huffington Post reported. At the time his wife told police that he grabbed her by her hair, dragged her and struck her in the head in front of the couple’s four children.
Last year, another restraining order against Haskell was issued, but was dismissed in October when the couple’s divorce was granted.
Authorities believe Haskell targeted the Stay family, because Katie Stay, Melanie Haskell’s sister, helped her escape Utah and begin a new life in Texas.
One of Haskell’s friends said he distraught over the divorce and was angered that his wife seemed overjoyed when a court granted her a divorce. As part of their divorce settlement, a judge awarded joint custody of the children and ordered Haskell, who earned $2,300 a month, to pay over $700 a month in child support.
This tragedy highlights the difficulties and dangers of leaving a spouse with a history of domestic violence. Even when a divorce is finalized, victims of domestic violence can still face danger of further abuse, and in the worst case death. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident, similar incidents like this play out far too often. Data suggests that 70 percent of incidents of domestic violence occur after a couple splits. The pressures of divorce can drive some people, especially those with mental health issues, to take drastic measures.
When a person is involved in a violent and abusive relationship, it can be very difficult to leave. It is always advisable to hire a divorce attorney who can direct an abused spouse to agencies that can offer protection and assist them with retraining orders. A divorce attorney can help a victim of domestic violence transition into a new life by helping them file for divorce and assist them with their child custody and support issues.