9 More Bodies Found; Toll in Arkansas Shooting 16
Authorities found nine more bodies today near the backwoods home of a man suspected in an Ozark Mountain killing spree that left 16 people dead, including 14 members of his family and a young woman who once spurned him.
It was one of the worst mass killings in the United States this decade.
The suspect, R. Gene Simmons, 47, was ordered held without bond today and ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation.
Seven bodies were found in a shallow grave near Simmons’ home, and the bodies of two children were found in garbage bags in the trunks of two abandoned vehicles, officials said.
Relatives Were Missing
Earlier, Pope County Sheriff Jim Bolin said that Simmons’ wife, Becky, four of their children, aged 7 to 17, and four grandchildren were unaccounted for.
The bodies were found when crews began searching at Simmons’ home where his son, daughter, their spouses, and a grandchild were found Monday amid Christmas decorations and unopened presents, police said.
The five people in Simmons’ house may have been dead since Saturday night or Sunday morning, when they arrived for the holidays, Bolin said. “The gifts are still under the tree and packed in the closet as though they didn’t have a Christmas at all.”
Simmons surrendered to the police chief Monday after shootings in a law office and three former workplaces in which two people were killed and four others wounded, officials said. Authorities say the gunman, a retired Air Force sergeant, used two .22-caliber revolvers.
Authorities would not speculate on a motive.
“The suspect has not muttered a word to us. He will not talk to anyone,” Bolin said.
Police gave this account of Monday’s rampage through this town of 14,000 people about 70 miles northwest of Little Rock:
The first victim that day was legal secretary Kathy Kendrick, 24, shot to death at her desk. The gunman then killed J. D. Chaffin, 33, and wounded Rusty Taylor, 38, a former employer, at Taylor Oil Co. At a mini-mart, he wounded manager David Salyer, 38, and employee Roberta Woolery, 46. The gunman then went to Woodline Motor Freight and wounded office manager Joyce Butts, 35.
Woodline President Robert Wood said Kendrick had spurned Simmons more than a year ago, when both worked at the trucking company. “That’s all I can best figure, that’s what started most of it,” Wood said.
Kendrick reported the advances to the office manager, “and at that point everything did stop,” Wood said.