Father’s Day murder-suicide preceded by troubling texts

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A Virginia man murdered his wife and two children on Father’s Day, eight days after his wife told him she wanted a divorce.

jernigansBarry “Chris” Jernigan, 35, sent an e-mail, a Facebook post and a series of texts that foreshadowed the night’s event, but police could not intervene in time.

Jernigan and his wife Renotta, 30, had been married for six years, but Renotta was frustrated with Chris’ ability to keep a job, her friend Courtney Winn said.

Chris wrote in an e-mail Sunday, “God give me the strength not to do this.” His most recent Facebook post wrote, “Just pray for my kids they understand.” Chris sent a number of texts to Winn apologizing and expressing his hatred for his wife. The last text he sent read “Goodbye everyone.”

Winn and several other friends stepped in after receiving these messages and contacted police. The police tracked Chris’ work phone and arrived at the family’s house, but it was too late.

Chris and his step-daughter, Lexi Kellas, 9, were already dead from a gunshot wound. Renotta and the couple’s son Seth, 2, were shot but still alive. Chris’ 13-year-old son from a previous relationship was not in the house during the shootings.

Neighbors heard the gunshots and tried to help. Harry Nguyen and a neighbor who is a nurse performed CPR on a bleeding Renotta, and retired Marine Gary Nguyen went into the house to try to save the kids.

“We just wanted to save someone, help somebody,” Gary Nguyen said. “It was the worst thing I ever saw, made my heart broken.”

Renotta died at the scene, and Seth died at a hospital.

“Chris was like, ‘I can’t live without her,’ and none of us took that as he couldn’t live without her so nobody else was going to,” Winn said. “And he just took her from all of us.”

“She was happy, she was so happy, that woman smiled so much in every picture, it was perfect,” she said about her best friend’s life.

The Chesterfield County Police Department is still investigating the shooting.

For more on this story, see wtvr.com.

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