Posted on | July 12, 2014 | 32 Comments
Ronald Lee Haskell was going through a divorce from his wife, Melannie Lyon. The couple had four young children, and Haskell had become increasingly violent. Lyon’s sister, Katie Stay, urged Lyon to leave Haskell in Utah and move to Texas, where Stay and her husband lived with their five children. Wednesday, Haskell went to the Stay family’s home in the suburbs of Houston:
Haskell, 33, was disguised as a FedEx delivery worker when he went to the suburban Houston home of his ex-wife’s sister, Katie Stay, on Wednesday afternoon, police said. Oldest child Cassidy was home alone and answered the door. She told Haskell her parents weren’t home. He later returned, forcing his way in and tying Cassidy up, police said.
Minutes later, her parents and her four siblings, ages 4 to 13, returned. Haskell allegedly tied them up as well, and demanded to know the whereabouts of his ex-wife, Melannie Lyon. They said they didn’t know, and they were each shot in the back of the head. The bullet for Cassidy only grazed her, and she played dead until the gunman fled, she told police.
The critically wounded teenager was able to identify him to police as her ex-uncle, and said he was planning to drive to her grandparents’ home and kill them. Police, however, tracked him down and he was arrested after a 20-minute police chase and a three-hour standoff.
The Stay family were among some 60,000 Mormons in the Houston area. Haskell was also Mormon and grew up in Alaska, where he was voted “class clown” his senior year in high school. Since the breakup of his marriage, Haskell had been living with his parents in California. He had a record of serious domestic violence:
One of his earliest arrests was in 2008 on suspicion of domestic violence, simple assault and committing an act of violence in front of children. Melannie Lyon told police her husband dragged her out of their bedroom by her hair and hit her in the side of the head.
Haskell said he had only pushed his wife, and that he was stressed from his job. Two of the couple’s children were ages 3 and 5 at the time. Haskell pleaded guilty to an assault charge in the case. . . .
Last October, a protective order filed by Lyon was dismissed when the couple agreed to a mutual restraining order and custody arrangements for their children. The judge said Ron Lee Haskell’s visits would have to be supervised by a psychologist.
Haskell had been living with his parents in San Marcos, California, before he traveled to Texas this week. He and his parents have a history of domestic disturbances, police records show.
As recently as July 2, Haskell allegedly choked his mother and threatened to kill her. Court documents say Haskell was upset that she was talking to his ex-wife. Karla Haskell reported to police her son “told me he was going to kill me, my family and any officer who stops him.” She filed a domestic violence protective order, and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department detectives looked for Haskell for several days but never found him, the department said this week. . . .
A sadly familiar story of escalating violence and the failure of law enforcement to recognize the danger signs. You might think when a man chokes his mother and threatens to kill her, when he has a prior record for assault and is already under a restraining order from his ex-wife, he would be locked up immediately. But no — it’s California: Turn him loose, so he can go kill six people in Texas.