By Edgar Sandoval
May 2, 2023.
Janette Mayo drove two hours to attend a choir recital last Thursday at a middle school in rural Oklahoma in the South Central region of the United States. Her granddaughter Tiffany Dore Guess wore a black and gold robe and sang beautifully, Ms. Mayo recalled.
The next day, she texted her daughter, Holly Guess, to check on her and Tiffany, but the reply she got unsettled her: “We dropped the phones in a mud puddle,” she said it read. “If you don’t hear from us in a few days, don’t worry about it.” Something was wrong, she recalled thinking: “It didn’t sound like her wording; it’s not like Holly would had talked.”
Then on Monday night came news that confirmed her worst fears. Law enforcement officers informed her that her daughter, Ms. Guess, and three of her grandchildren — Tiffany, 13; Rylee Elizabeth Allen, 17; and Michael James Mayo, 15 — were among seven people who were found dead in a small town south of Tulsa, on a ranch belonging to a man named Jesse McFadden, a registered sex offender who was scheduled to go on trial Monday for sex-related crimes but who never showed up in court.
Investigators made the grim discovery when they went to the property near Henryetta, a town of about 6,000 people south of Tulsa, looking for two missing girls, Ivy Webster, 14, and Brittany Brewer, 16.
Eddy Rice, the Okmulgee County Sheriff, told reporters after the discovery on Monday that the search for the two girls was no longer necessary, and he told The Tulsa World that the two missing teenagers were believed to be among the dead, though that had not yet been confirmed.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Oklahoma Medical Examiner had not released the names of any of the people found dead at the scene. The Sheriff’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
In a phone interview, Ms. Mayo said that Mr. McFadden, who married her daughter about a year ago, was among the dead. She said that Ms. Guess and her children had moved in with him at the ranch near Henryetta, and that there had been no indication that he was a danger to them, Ms. Mayo said.
The Oklahoma Sex Offender registry lists a man named Jesse Lee McFadden, 39, living at the location where the bodies were discovered.
According to court records, Mr. McFadden was scheduled to go on trial Monday morning in Muskogee County on several charges including child pornography and soliciting sexual conduct or communication with a minor using technology. When he failed to appear, the court issued a bench warrant.
Nathan Brewer, the father of Brittany Brewer, told KOTV, a Tulsa television station, that his daughter was scheduled to appear at the National Miss Pageant in Tulsa in July, representing Henryetta, her hometown.
Ms. Mayo, the relative of four of the victims, said she believed Ivy and Brittany were visiting Tiffany and her other grandchildren before the two were reported missing. A missing-persons alert issued by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said it was believed that the two girls had last been seen at about 1:30 a.m. on Monday in Henryetta, riding in a white Chevrolet pickup truck with Mr. McFadden.
Shannon Dillon embraces Ms. Webster, whose daughter and another teenager had been reported missing.Credit…Nick Oxford/Reuters Ms. Mayo, who lives in Westville, Okla., about 90 miles northeast of Henryetta near the Arkansas border, said the authorities called her at 10 p.m. on Monday to tell her that her daughter and three grandchildren were among those who had been killed.
Ms. Mayo said her daughter met Mr. McFadden about two years ago and married him last May. “He was very quiet, kept to himself,” she said.
About six weeks ago, she said, their family’s life began to unravel. Ms. Mayo said her husband came across a court record online showing that Mr. McFadden had been charged with sexual crimes related to minors. When her daughter confronted Mr. McFadden about it, he persuaded her to give him a second chance, Ms. Mayo recalled.
It is unclear what led to the killings. Ms. Mayo said the authorities told her that Mr. McFadden took all of the victims into the yard and killed them. “They were all shot. They were not in a group,” she said, her voice breaking.
An official with the Oklahoma State Bureau Investigation, which is assisting in the investigation, would not confirm Ms. Mayo’s description of the events.
On Tuesday Ms. Mayo was embarking on the heartbreaking task of planning funeral services for her daughter and three of her grandchildren. When she saw them last, at the middle school recital, “they were happy, they were smiling,” she said, adding that Rylee kept calling her granny instead of grandma and “just picking on me” playfully.
“I’m not able to cope with this yet,” she said.
Source: The New York Times