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Mass Murders Arkansas

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NEWS
March 29, 1998 | JULIE CART, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Shannon Wright, who shielded a sixth-grade pupil from gunfire and was fatally wounded as a result, was remembered Saturday as a hero as the final victims of Tuesday's shooting spree at Westside Middle School were laid to rest. The 32-year-old teacher, who leaves behind a husband and a 2-year-old son, was memorialized at a jammed church service just five miles from the scene of the bloody schoolyard ambush that claimed the lives of Wright and four young girls and injured 10 others.
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NEWS
June 12, 1999 | From Times Wire Reports
The state of Arkansas will be able to keep the two Jonesboro school snipers in custody past their 18th birthdays after buying a former county prison, officials said. By taking over the former juvenile facility in southeast Arkansas, the state will be able to fulfill its legal requirement to keep the boys separate from younger offenders when they turn 18, but not send them to an adult prison.
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NEWS
February 5, 1994 | LYNDA NATALI, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
An 18-year-old high school dropout was found guilty Friday in the brutal murders of three 8-year-old boys. "It doesn't change anything for my son, who was tortured and murdered!" Melissa Byers shouted after Jessie Lloyd Misskelley Jr. was found guilty of one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder. "He (Misskelley) deserves to be tortured! He murdered three 8-year-old babies!" Misskelley was sentenced to life in prison.
NEWS
August 13, 1998 | From Times Wire Reports
Mitchell Johnson, 14, and Andrew Golden, 12, the two boys convicted in the schoolyard shooting deaths of four students and a teacher at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark., arrived at a state youth facility in Alexander, Ark., where they will serve their sentences. Mitchell pleaded guilty to five counts of murder and 10 battery counts in the March 24 shooting. Andrew was found guilty by a judge who rejected his temporary insanity claim.
NEWS
April 25, 1990 | DAVID G. SAVAGE, TIMES STAFF WRITER
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a condemned killer can gain his wish and be put to death without having his case appealed. But this 7-2 ruling has only minimal impact, since Arkansas is the only state which does not require that a death sentence automatically be reviewed by its highest state court. On Dec. 28, 1987, Ronald Gene Simmons went on a rampage in Russellville, Ark., randomly shooting and killing two persons and wounding three others.
NEWS
January 3, 1988
Mourners of the 14 relatives police say were killed by R. Gene Simmons attended a memorial service in Russellville, Ark., for victims of America's worst family mass murder. The Rev. Royce Savage told 300 people gathered at the First Assembly of God Church that the killings left many fundamental questions unanswered. "Everybody wants to know why this, why them, why here and why that many," he said.
NEWS
March 26, 1998 | J.R. MOEHRINGER, TIMES STAFF WRITER
It was all so sudden, so random and unexpected. And yet it seemed to follow a familiar pattern, seemed to obey the rules of a strange new ritual emerging here in the rural South. For the third time in five months, it happened this way: First, students were inexplicably gunned down at the one place thought to be a sanctuary within the community, the local school. Then, frantic parents made a mad dash for the schoolyard, a frantic media horde hot on their heels.
NEWS
June 12, 1999 | From Times Wire Reports
The state of Arkansas will be able to keep the two Jonesboro school snipers in custody past their 18th birthdays after buying a former county prison, officials said. By taking over the former juvenile facility in southeast Arkansas, the state will be able to fulfill its legal requirement to keep the boys separate from younger offenders when they turn 18, but not send them to an adult prison.
NEWS
March 27, 1998
The first thing they did Thursday at Westside Middle School was disconnect the fire alarm--the same one that lured four students and one teacher to their death in a barrage of gunfire. No lessons were taught, and all outdoor activities were canceled. Students made cards for the 11 people who were wounded. Also Thursday, police released eight minutes of frantic 911 calls made from the school after the shooting in which callers said gunfire was coming "from everywhere" and pleaded for help.
NEWS
August 12, 1998 | J. R. MOEHRINGER, TIMES STAFF WRITER
A few hours after celebrating his 14th birthday with a cake and family all around him, Mitchell Johnson stood before 170 people in a jam-packed courtroom here Tuesday afternoon and apologized for the murder of five people. "If I could go back and change what happened I'd do it in a minute," the boy said in a warbly voice, publicly admitting for the first time his role in the March 24 shooting spree at Westside Middle School that left four girls and a teacher dead, 10 others wounded.
NEWS
August 12, 1998 | J. R. MOEHRINGER, TIMES STAFF WRITER
A few hours after celebrating his 14th birthday with a cake and family all around him, Mitchell Johnson stood before 170 people in a jam-packed courtroom here Tuesday afternoon and apologized for the murder of five people. "If I could go back and change what happened I'd do it in a minute," the boy said in a warbly voice, publicly admitting for the first time his role in the March 24 shooting spree at Westside Middle School that left four girls and a teacher dead, 10 others wounded.
NEWS
April 2, 1998 | GEORGE SKELTON
At least, I thought, after hearing about the two boys accused of mowing down their classmates with hunting rifles--here's one shooting spree that doesn't scream out for more gun control. This country is not going to ban deer rifles or shotguns or common pistols. Nor should it. There's too much tradition, too much heritage, too much Americana. Not to mention the 2nd Amendment. Don't even think about it.
NEWS
March 29, 1998 | J.R. MOEHRINGER, TIMES STAFF WRITER
If there is no threat of backlash, no sense of blame or betrayal about two local families who may have produced two young mass murderers, it is because rage requires strength, and this is a town bedridden with a broken heart. The oldest myth about disaster has come true here.
NEWS
March 29, 1998 | JULIE CART, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Shannon Wright, who shielded a sixth-grade pupil from gunfire and was fatally wounded as a result, was remembered Saturday as a hero as the final victims of Tuesday's shooting spree at Westside Middle School were laid to rest. The 32-year-old teacher, who leaves behind a husband and a 2-year-old son, was memorialized at a jammed church service just five miles from the scene of the bloody schoolyard ambush that claimed the lives of Wright and four young girls and injured 10 others.
NEWS
March 27, 1998
The first thing they did Thursday at Westside Middle School was disconnect the fire alarm--the same one that lured four students and one teacher to their death in a barrage of gunfire. No lessons were taught, and all outdoor activities were canceled. Students made cards for the 11 people who were wounded. Also Thursday, police released eight minutes of frantic 911 calls made from the school after the shooting in which callers said gunfire was coming "from everywhere" and pleaded for help.
NEWS
March 27, 1998 | J.R. MOEHRINGER, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Larry Russell told his 11-year-old son, Cody, to be brave, to be a big boy. But it was a tough sell for the father, considering his own sunken eyes and trembling voice. "He's doing a lot better than I am," Larry admitted, reaching out and giving Cody a good hard squeeze, as if he didn't dare let the boy get out of embracing range for more than a split second.
NEWS
May 13, 1988 | Associated Press
A man accused of slaying 16 people was convicted Thursday and sentenced to death for a shooting rampage that left a man and a woman dead and four others wounded. A Franklin County Circuit Court jury convicted R. Gene Simmons of capital murder and five counts of attempted capital murder. They then heard arguments on whether to sentence him to death or to life in prison without parole, and later returned the death penalty. After Circuit Judge John S.
NEWS
December 31, 1987 | Associated Press
A man accused of killing 14 relatives and two other people said after he fired his last shot that "I've gotten everybody who wanted to hurt me," a witness said Wednesday. "I've come to do what I wanted to do. It's all over now," R. Gene Simmons Sr. told a woman he held hostage at Woodline Motor Freight Inc., according to Robert Wood, president of the trucking company. Shortly thereafter, Simmons, 47, released the woman and surrendered to police officers.
NEWS
March 26, 1998 | J.R. MOEHRINGER, TIMES STAFF WRITER
It was all so sudden, so random and unexpected. And yet it seemed to follow a familiar pattern, seemed to obey the rules of a strange new ritual emerging here in the rural South. For the third time in five months, it happened this way: First, students were inexplicably gunned down at the one place thought to be a sanctuary within the community, the local school. Then, frantic parents made a mad dash for the schoolyard, a frantic media horde hot on their heels.
NEWS
March 26, 1998 | TERENCE MONMANEY and GREG KRIKORIAN, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
Struggling to shed light on the schoolyard killings in Arkansas--the latest of three such incidents in the last five months--social scientists, physicians and policy experts Wednesday cited factors from ready access to guns to the specter of a new type of student-criminal: the "fledgling psychopath." Experts also laid the burden of blame on a popular culture that often glorifies violence as a way of solving personal problems.
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