Friends speak out about Matoaca murder/suicide victims - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Friends speak out about Matoaca murder/suicide victims

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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -

NBC12 is finding out more about the tragic deaths in Chesterfield where a mother and her two children were killed, apparently at the hands of her husband.

Friends and neighbor are reeling from the violence.  It happened on Father's Day on Fox Maple Terrace in Chesterfield's Matoaca area.  Police say Barry Jernigan shot and killed his two-year-old son Seth, his nine-year-old step daughter Alexis Kellas, and his wife Renotta Jernigan before killing himself.

The photos give us a glimpse of a family taken in moment of violence: Renotta visiting her daughter, at school.   In another photo, they're dressed in their Easter best.  She called her son, her "Little Doodle." 

"She loved them with all of her heart, they were in every single thing that she did," said Laura Dolan, a friend of Renotta. 

Now other children, like Alexis' classmate Lani Avery, are also suffering from this loss. Her mother, Suzanne, says counselors be available at Matoaca Elementary.

"It made me feel sad. I wanted to cry really bad and I just felt broken inside," said Lani.

"My heart is just broken just bleeds for this family it really does," Suzanne added.  

Police flooded the cul-de-sac just after 10 p.m. Sunday night, the call came in as a welfare check. When officers got there, neighbors were already trying to save Renotta and the toddler.  Police say they heard more gunshots. Inside the home, officers found the bodies of Alexis and Barry. Investigators including Chesterfield Police chief Thierry DePuis stayed into the night.

Some didn't leave until the early morning, as neighbors started to learn about the horrific details.

"How do a father look down at his child and pull the trigger?" said neighbor Kimberly Morgan.

How and why are two questions police are now trying to answer. For now mourning and remembering are the only things giving loved ones some comfort.

"She's one of my friends and I just wanted to give respect to her and her family," Lani said.

Renotta is from Dinwiddie. NBC12 checked court records in both Chesterfield and Dinwiddie.  According to the clerk, no protective orders had ever been filed against Barry Jernigan.

A memorial fund has been setup to help pay for the final expenses of Renotta Jernigan and her children.  Donations can be made to the Renotta Jernigan and Children benefit fund at any Bank of McKenney location. 

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