The operator of a Riverside County adult-care facility was drunk and sent an apologetic text to a friend before he shot three developmentally disabled men, set the building ablaze and then used the gun to kill himself, according to investigation documents.
The August 2016 fire at the Renee Jennex Small Family Home in Temecula killed a fourth developmentally disabled man and burned all five people beyond recognition. Investigators pulled a gas can from the charred rubble.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise on Friday cited autopsy reports that show James Jennex had been drinking before carrying out the murder-suicide. The autopsy on Jennex, 50, showed that he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24, three times the level at which a person is presumed to be too impaired to drive.
Shortly before the shootings, Jennex texted a friend to say that his wife, Renee, would need assistance. “Renee will need some help, sorry to dump this on you. You’ve been a good friend. Would have liked one more breakfast,” the text said.
Investigators haven’t identified a motive for the killings. The four victims, ranging in age from 26 to 37, were identified through dental records.
Coroner records list the manner of death for all but Jennex as homicide. His death was listed as a suicide.
The home was a state-licensed facility that cared for severely disabled adults. It’s no longer in operation.
Jason Prudhomme, brother of victim Jared Prudhomme, has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the home, Renee Jennex and the estate of James Jennex, seeking more than $25,000 for general damages and burial expenses.
Renee Jennex, in her response filed by attorney Michael H. Silvers, said she was not responsible for the deaths, blaming “intervening and superseding forces which were beyond the control of these answering defendants.”
She did not return phone messages from the newspaper seeking comment. She has surrendered her license to care for developmentally disabled clients in California and moved out of state.
A case-management hearing has been set for Sept. 5 in Riverside County Superior Court.