I will never understand this case isn’t better known. 47 year old Ronald “Gene” Simmons was single handedly responsible for this 1987 Christmas Massacre. It is the worst family annihilator case in the US, though he killed more than just family…
Gene was a quiet man, often described as eccentric. He was a highly decorated retired Master Sargeant who had served in multiple branches of the military – a man known for his excellent marksmanship. Gene had been married to his wife, Becky, since 1960; together the couple had raised 7 children and currently had a few grandchildren. Their oldest daughter was Sheila.
Things were not well in the Simmons’ New Mexico home; in ’81 Gene was investigated for having fathered his 17 year old daughter’s baby. Realizing that he would soon be arrested if he stayed in the state, Gene loaded up his family and they moved to Arkansas. Here the family lived a secluded life on 13 acres known as Mockingbird Hill; this land consisted of a couple trailers surrounding a larger home in the center. Mockingbird Hill was equipped with a ten foot privacy fence, no telephone, and no indoor plumbing; it was very private, which was exactly what Gene wanted. Here in Arkansas Gene bounced from job to job, and found himself fired at least once for sexual harassment- he’d harassed multiple women over a period of time.
On December 18th of ’87, Gene quit his job at the Mini-Mart. It’s believed this is about the time he seriously began plotting his entire family’s demise. Gene forced his children to dig a very large hole; there’s no telling what he told the kids he needed the hole for, maybe they thought they were getting a swimming pool? Surely his children never would’ve guessed that daddy was forcing them to dig their own mass grave.
On December 22nd, Gene shot and killed his wife Becky and their son, Gene Jr; his 3 year old daughter, Barbara, was strangled to death. Gene placed these bodies in the hole which the children has been forced to dig. When the rest of his kids came home for Christmas, dad told them he had special gifts for them, but he wanted to give them to each privately. Extra cruel, isn’t it? They thought they were going to receive something special from Daddy. He called them to him, one at a time; one by one Gene strangled them all – Eddy, Becky, Marianne, and Loretta. The father ensured they were truly deceased by holding their heads under water in a bucket used to gather rain water, then Gene dragged their corpses to the pre-dug grave where he’d placed the others.
On the 26th, the rest of the family showed up. Gene’s son Billy and wife Renata were shot, then grandson Trae was strangled to death. Sheila, the daughter he’d impregnated, showed up next. He shot her and her husband, Dennis. Next he strangled his 7 year old daughter/granddaughter, Sylvia, and drowned his 21 month old grandson, Michael.
When his entire family was dead, Gene went to get his drink on at the bar. The next day, he chilled at home; the family annihilator drank and watched TV. You know, the usual things you do after murdering each and every single human on Earth who ever gave a damn about you.
The day after that, our killer went to a law office where a woman named Kathy Kendrick worked. Kathy had turned down his sexual advances in the past and Gene was none too pleased with that; he shot her dead. Then he went to an ex employers office and killed an employee, and shot the owner of the company. The next venue on his list was a shop that he’d worked for, and here he shot two more. Finally, Gene went on to a freight company where he shot another woman. After this, he thankfully decided to stop; Gene patiently chatted up a secretary while waiting for police to come collect him.
After all he’d done, Gene only had this to say for himself: “I’ve come to do what I wanted to do. It’s all over now. I’ve gotten everybody who wanted to hurt me.”. All in all, Gene killed 16 – 14 of which were his own flesh and blood; thankfully 4 of his shooting victims survived.
Gene bypassed all of his appeals. On May 31st of 1990, Arkansas’s governor at the time, Bill Clinton, signed the death warrant which sealed Gene Simmons’s fate. He was put down by lethal injection on June 25th of that same year.
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