In Murder-Suicide Cases, Who Pays?

Phillip Daniel Stephen Ross Anastacia Lynn Smith Piper Ann Ross River Gayle Ross [Photos reposted from Tulsa World (link below)]

Last Friday night 31-year-old Phillip Ross of Sand Springs, Okla. hacked to death his 2-year-old daughter Piper and her 4-year-old sister River. He slaughtered their mother, his girlfriend and the mother of his children, Stacey Smith. Then he killed himself. “This is the worse thing that’s happened in my 28 years of law enforcement,” Fox 23 News reported that Sand Springs Chief of Police Mike Carter said at a news conference yesterday.

Here is the link to the KJRH-TV news report on the case. https://youtu.be/phky8uez7Zk

Here is the link to the newspaper Tulsa World article about it.

https://tulsaworld.com/community/sandsprings/news/update-father-fatally-stabbed-two-children-their-mother-before-killing-self-sand-springs-police-say/article_210768d0-6362-11eb-8312-3bd598cc0ea9.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

What do we do with the sorrow and rage and thirst for justice that are all inevitable in such a tragedy? There will be no trial, no one to convict. Left to mourn their deaths are Stacey’s two teenage children who were not home at the time of the attack, and Phillip’s mother who has lost her son and will have few who will mourn with her without reservation. Details have not yet been released, but Stacey may have left parents and siblings who have lost their daughter, sister, granddaughters, nieces. They will surely find support in their grief, but no justice, at least not on this earth. The investigators and forensics experts will sit with those horrific images of innocence destroyed all of their lives. They will not find the satisfaction of having protected the innocent or helped to punish the guilty, results that most law enforcement professionals can take some satisfaction in having achieved. They were not able to save us from ourselves this time, just left to clean up the mess.

This is a new investigation with many unanswered questions. Phillip Ross had a history of domestic violence but no convictions and none documented with Stacey. We do not know whether he had a military history or ever had a mental health evaluation. The coroner’s office is conducting toxicology lab work to determine if drugs or alcohol were involved. So much we do not know.

Here is what we do know. The neighbors heard sounds of violence that night but did not respond. Phillip’s mother came to the house Saturday afternoon and discovered the bodies. The front door was open. She had planned to babysit for her grandchildren that night so Phillip and Tracey could go out to celebrate her birthday but had tried unsuccessfully to reach them by phone to confirm. She had been worried.

In coming weeks we will find more answers, but none of them will tell us what to do with our feelings. None of them will answer the question of what we can and should do to protect ourselves and our neighbors, especially during these out-of-control pandemic days when political insurrection reigns and 28 murders, many involving children, have been committed in Oklahoma since Covid 19 began its deadly creep.

About Sue Keefe

I am a freelance writer whose particular topics of interest include true crime and the experience of deafness. I am currently co-writing a book about the triple homicide of a wife and her 4- and 7-year-old daughters with Charlie Wells, the now-retired 23-year veteran sheriff of Manatee County, Florida. I have three adult sons, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. My husband Bob Volpe and I divide our time between a lake cottage in Battersea, Ontario, Canada and our condominium in Sarasota, Florida.

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