“In my particular case, anything short of death would be cruel and unusual punishment”
Ronald Gene Simmons, Sr was born on 15 July 1940 and served in the US Army Air Force. Outwardly normal, in December 1987 he decided to kill his entire family. On the morning of 22 December he murdered his wife Rebecca and son Gene by shooting them with a .22 calibre pistol at the family home in Dover, Arkansas. He threw their corpses into a cesspit and waited for his other children to come home. When they arrived he told them that he had presents for them but wanted to hand them over one at a time. Seventeen-year-old Loretta was taken to another room where her father strangled her and pushed her head into a rainwater barrel. Simmons murdered the remaining children, Eddy, Marianne, and Becky in the same way.
At midday on Boxing Day the rest of the family arrived to celebrate the festive season. Simmons shot his son Billy and daughter-in-law Renata before strangling his grandson Trae. Simmons then shot his daughter Sheila, with whom he had been having an incestuous affair, and her husband Dennis McNulty.
Simmons had fathered his own granddaughter by Sheila, Sylvia Gail, and she was strangled. Last to die was his grandson Michael, 21 months old. Simmons arranged the corpses neatly in the living room, covered with coats except for Sheila who had the best tablecloth draped over her. Simmons then went for a drink in a local bar before returning to his home where he sat watching television and drinking beer, surrounded by the remains of his family.
The next day, he continued to relax with his feet up, television on and beer in hand. The Christmas holiday over, on 28 December he drove to Russellville where he murdered 24-year-old lawyer’s receptionist Kathy Kendrick and then went to an oil company office and murdered J.D. Chaffin, 33, and wounded the owner, Rusty Taylor, 38. The gunman then wounded the manager of the Sinclair Mini-Mart, David Salyer, 38, and an employee, Roberta Woolery, 46, and then wounded Joyce Butts at the Woodline Motor Freight Company. He then calmly sat down and waited for the police.
Dover, Arkansas, USA
Tuesday 22-Saturday 26 December 1987
Simmons was charged with 16 counts of murder, tried on 10 February 1989, found guilty, and sentenced to death. He refused to contest the sentence saying, “To those who oppose the death penalty in my particular case, anything short of death would be cruel and unusual punishment.” On 31 May 1990, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton signed Simmons’s execution warrant. On 25 June Simmons died by lethal injection, the second to die by judicial execution that year.