'She heard dripping': Girl reveals how uncle executed family
Horrifying new details have been revealed about how a family of six was murdered by a vengeful uncle.
Inside a Texas courtroom, Ronald Lee Haskell is facing day one of a murder trial that could see him sent to death row for a killing spree that left his sister-in-law, her husband and the couple's four children dead.
Haskell, 39, is accused of stalking the family at their home north of Houston on July 9, 2014, dressed as a deliveryman for FedEx.
He was looking for his wife, Melannie, who was being sheltered by her sister at the home in the suburb of Spring.
Melannie had left him because he was allegedly violent towards her.
What Haskell did on that morning has been revealed in graphic detail today.
Haskell forced his way into the family home but Stephen and Katie Stay - Melannie's sister - weren't home.
Their children, including Cassidy, 15, Bryan, 13, Emily, 9, Rebecca. 7, and Zach, 4, were forced onto the ground by a man they had always known as "Uncle Ronnie".
Haskell held them there and waited. When Stephen and Katie returned, he lined them up on the ground next to their children and demanded to know the whereabouts of his ex-wife.
When they told him they did not know, he executed them one by one.
Stephen and Katie were killed, as were the four youngest children. But the bullet designed to kill Cassidy scraped her skull and left her bleeding but alive.
She played dead, police say, before Haskell left. Then she called 911 and saved the lives of other family members living nearby.
Police responded immediately and, after a tense standoff, arrested and charged Haskell with carrying out one of Texas' most brutal mass murders.
'AS CASSIDY PLAYED DEAD, SHE HEARD A DRIP'
Houston Chronicle court reporter Samantha Ketterer is in court today for the opening statements as Haskell, dressed in a suit and tie and cleanly shaved, listened intently.
On Twitter, she shared grim new information about the morning a family was ripped apart.
She said Haskell was carrying with him a "package" that was "used as a silencer on his 9mm gun as he fired off round after round.
She confirmed that Haskell told the family to lay in a row before the shooting began.
And she reported that as Cassidy played dead "she heard a drip" and "realised it was her sister's blood dropping on to the floor".
The court also heard Haskell stopped at fast food restaurant Sonic after committing the murders to get a drink.
He planned to travel to Melannie's parents' home but was stopped by police on the way there.
Haskell was charged with one count of capital murder for each of the six victims. His lawyers are going to argue he is insane.
First evidence brought to the jurors: Cassidy Stay's chilling 911 call. She's screaming through most of it.— Samantha Ketterer (@sam_kett) August 26, 2019
"My family has been shot," she said.
Police say he had travelled to the family home in Houston from California, with the plan to kill as many people as he could.
"Posing as a parcel delivery driver, Haskell forced entry into the home, holding multiple juvenile victims at gunpoint," the police statement read.
"Haskell held the juveniles at gunpoint until additional family members returned to the home. During the incident, Haskell opened fire on the family, killing six and wounding one.
"Stephen and Katie Stay, along with four juvenile victims, were killed during the confrontation."
In a statement, Katie's father Roger Lyon said the family was "amazing and resilient".
"Stephen and Katie Stay and their beautiful children were an amazing and resilient family.
"They lived to help others, both at church and in their neighbourhood. We love them beyond words.
"Cassidy Stay, 15, who survived the attack, is expected to make a full recovery. We are grateful for this miracle. We are in awe of her bravery and courage in calling 911, an act that is likely to have saved all of our lives.
"She is our hero."
ONLY SURVIVOR IS GETTING ON WITH LIFE
In the weeks and months after the slayings, the community raised more than $300,000 for Cassidy's future. She is now 19, engaged, and studying at Brigham Young University in Utah, the Houston Chronicle reports.
According to the newspaper, Haskell physically abused his ex-wife, sometimes in front of their children and on at least one occasion when she was pregnant.
The long-awaited trial, which began today, is expected to subject jurors to autopsy photos of the Stay family.
The first piece of evidence shown to the jury was Cassidy's 911 call, according to reporters covering the trial.
If found guilty, Haskell faces the death penalty.
Texas is one of the 29 US states where capital punishment still applies to those who commit murder.
Some key details from defense's opening arguments:— Samantha Ketterer (@sam_kett) 26 August 2019
▪️ Haskell had three voices, Jonathan, Joseph and Samantha, that spoke to him.
Joseph told him to kill the Stays b/c it was the only way to get his children and Melannie back.
▪️ Haskell told psychologists he couldn't sleep. Described a half-bison/half-man standing over him.— Samantha Ketterer (@sam_kett) 26 August 2019
▪️ Psychologists said he had homicidal ideation, suicidal ideation, poor impulse control, delusions and hallucinations
▪️ One diagnosed him with schizoaffective disorder