"A couple weeks back they were all playing outside," a neighbor recalled. So what went so tragically wrong?
Trigger warning: Contains details of murder and violence that may be distressing to some readers.
There are times when a horrific incident can change how we see the world. While there has been a large-scale loss of life in the US in the past year there still are specific incidents that leave us unnerved. Recently, in Arkansas, one family's life was cut short before they could even welcome their bundle of joy. The young family of three was about to grow into a family-of-four but their lives ended before that could happen.
The person responsible for it was the one who should have taken care of them. A 23-year-old woman, who was in her third trimester of pregnancy, and her 2-year-old son were shot and killed by her husband, who then turned the gun on himself, as per Daily Mail. Paiden Nicole Priest, her son Grayson Alexander Beckham, and her husband, David Wayne Priest, were found with gunshot wounds when the police reached their home in Van Buren, near Fort Smith, Arkansas, on April 25.
David, 24, an electrician, was found alive in the house and was taken to the local hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.
"This is one of the worst cases we've ever had to deal with," Police Sgt. Jonathan Wear said in a televised press conference following the shooting. "But we do believe that this was done by David Priest."
The couple got engaged in June and married in August, writes Daily Mail. They seemed like a happy couple but reportedly had an argument, during which David opened fire inside the home and killed his wife and his stepson, as per 40/29 News. A neighbor, who lived in the other half of their duplex, called 911 around 12:40 a.m., saying that bullets had torn through his wall. He said that one even struck his headboard, right above where he and his wife were sleeping.
"Me and my wife were sleeping and we heard a gunshot," the neighbor reported. "Then it happened again and we turned our light on and it looked like a gunshot came through our room from the drywall next door."
"A couple weeks back they were all playing outside," said neighbor Sarah Beals. She added that the family, which was wiped out, was "nice" and "sweet."
Paiden, who was a nurse, had her baby shower only a week before she was killed. David had even changed his profile photo to one of him kissing her very pregnant belly. It is shocking that he went from love to rage so soon and ended up killing his entire family. The family's bodies were sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock for autopsies.
Their friends and family paid tribute to Paiden and Grayson, and her unborn son, Elijah, on Facebook, as per Daily Mail. The 23-year-old's cousin, Allie Price, wrote, "RIP to my beautiful cousin and her sweet babies. I know you and your sweet boys are up there dancing."
Deann Steele, Paiden's mother-in-law, also wrote a tribute, identifying Paiden as her "only daughter-in-law." "I wish I could trade places with you all," she wrote on Paiden's Facebook, "my life doesn't feel the same."
The motivation for the murder-suicide still hasn't been found but the weapon was recovered in the home.
Cover image source (Representational): Getty Images | Photo by JGI/Jamie Grill