Menu

Suspect in Houston family massacre faced previous allegations of domestic violence

Haskellle2.jpg

July 11: Ronald Lee Haskell collapses as he appears in court in Houston. Haskell, 33, is accused of killing his ex-wife's sister, Katie Stay, her husband and the children, ranging in age from 4 to 14, after binding and putting them face-down on the floor of their suburban Houston home.AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer, Pool

The suspect police say disguised himself as a FedEx worker before killing six members of a family has a history of domestic violence allegations and at one point was ordered by a judge to undergo a psychological evaluation, The Deseret News reported.

Ronald Lee Haskell, 33, is the man police say kicked in the door of a Spring, Texas, home Wednesday evening and held the five children there. He waited for their parents to arrive, put the family into a room, and opened fire, police said. 

Police said Haskell tied the family up and shot them in the back of the head when they refused to tell him where his wife was.

"I have not personally in 40 years seen a tragedy in one family that is this horrific," Ron Hickman, the Harris County Precinct 4 constable, said.

Haskell, who reportedly had "several involvements" with Utah police, pleaded guilty to simple assault in a domestic violence-related incident about seven years ago, The Deseret News reported.

"Melanie Haskell stated her husband Ronald had (dragged) her by her hair and struck her in the head, and then did it again in front of the children," the paper reported, citing court records. Those charges were later dismissed as part of a plea deal, according to information released Thursday by Logan authorities.

The paper reported that she filed for divorce in 2013 and filed for an order of protection. It was dismissed in October after the couple filed for divorce, online court records show.

The lone survivor of the attack, the couple's 15-year-old daughter, suffered a fractured skull when a bullet grazed her head. She played dead and called 911 after Ronald Lee Haskell left the house, prosecutors revealed at a court hearing.

A day after the killings, investigators slowly built a picture of Haskell, who was the couple's estranged brother-in-law.

Haskell is accused of killing his ex-wife's sister, Katie Stay, and her husband and the children ranging in age from 4 to 14, after binding them and putting the family face-down on the floor of their home.

The father, Stephen Stay, was a real estate broker. The mother was a helpful presence around the neighborhood, planning Halloween and Christmas parties for children, Palacios said.

Stay "was very instrumental in helping her sister get here so she could have a fresh start. Katie's a spitfire. She has energy to stand up for what she believes is right and true," said Verena Beckstrand, a neighbor who choked back tears as she talked about the family.

A few blocks from the home at Lemm Elementary School, Principal Kathy Brown tied multi-colored ribbons around trees in front of the building and encouraged parents to do the same.

"It's to have positive bright thoughts about the family," Brown said, noting that two of the killed children had attended school there and a third had graduated from Lemm.

Click for more from The Deseret News

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Bank Rates

Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
30 Y Fixed Graph 4.19% dw 4.27%  
15 Y Fixed Graph 3.27% -- 3.27%  
30 Y Fixed Jumbo Graph 4.70% up 4.56%  
5/1 ARM Graph 3.36% up 3.35%  
5/1 Jumbo ARM Graph 3.74% up 3.54%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
$30K HELOC Graph 4.38% -- 4.38%  
$50K HELOC Graph 4.11% -- 4.11%  
$30K Loan Graph 4.98% dw 4.99%  
$50K Loan Graph 4.39% dw 4.40%  
$75K Loan Graph 4.39% dw 4.40%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
36 M New Graph 2.90% dw 2.91%  
36 M Used Graph 3.41% dw 3.43%  
48 M New Graph 3.15% dw 3.19%  
48 M Used Graph 2.91% dw 2.97%  
60 M New Graph 3.16% dw 3.22%  
Loan Type Graph Yield +/- Last Week
6 month Graph 0.35% -- 0.35%  
1 yr Graph 0.67% dw 0.68%  
5 yr Graph 1.38% -- 1.38%