A local Oklahoma sheriff said the bodies included the presumed remains of two missing teenagers and a convicted sex offender who was believed to be with them.
HENRIETTA, OKLAHOMA. — As law enforcement officials remained silent Tuesday on what led to the slayings of seven people in rural Oklahoma, family members of those killed recalled the surveillance of one of the dead, who was a registered sex offender.
Since the bodies were found early Monday, authorities have released scant information about who was killed, how they died and who killed them.
Janet Mayo, whose daughter and three teenage grandchildren were among the dead, said the controlling behavior of her son-in-law, Jesse McFadden, was a cause for concern, but the family only learned of his criminal history months ago.
“He lied to my daughter and convinced her it was all just a big mistake,” Mayo, of Westville, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “He was very reserved, generally very quiet, but he kept my daughter and the kids mostly locked up. He had to know where they were at all times, which raised red flags.”
Okmulgee County Sheriff Eddie Rice said the bodies were found on the property where McFadden lived near Henrietta, a town of about 6,000 people about 90 miles (145 kilometers) east of Oklahoma City. Rice said the bodies included two missing teenagers, Ivy Webster, 14, and Brittany Brewer, 16, as well as McFadden. Rice said the state medical examiner will have to confirm the victims’ identities.
Mayo said the sheriff’s office told her late Monday that the other four victims were her daughter, Holly Hess, 35, and her grandchildren, Riley Elizabeth Allen, 17; Michael James Mayo, 15; and Tiffany Dore Hess, 13. Mayo said Tiffany was a close friend of Ivy and Brittany, who were spending the weekend with family.
While Rice declined to provide details on how they died, Mayo, 59, said she was told by the sheriff’s office that her daughter and grandchildren had been shot.
Ivy’s father filed a missing person report with the local sheriff’s office when she did not return home Sunday night after spending the weekend with McFadden, Hess and her children. Justin Webster said he thought the children had gone with McFadden to spend some time at the ranch where he worked near McAlester.
He said law enforcement officials told him that all of the victims had suffered gunshot wounds, that some were lined up and facing the area.
Webster echoed the description of McFadden as controlling and unusual, but said he was unaware of McFadden’s criminal history.
“I would say he was amazing,” Webster said. “He was constantly going into his kids’ phones and reading all the instant messages and stuff. It wasn’t like a concerned parent. It was more watching the kids.”
An endangered persons notice issued early Monday said Webster and Brewer were seen traveling with McFadden, who was on the state sex offender registry. Oklahoma Department of Corrections prison records show he was convicted of first-degree rape in 2003 and released in October 2020.
McFadden was scheduled to appear in court Monday for the start of a jury trial on charges of solicitation of sexual conduct with minors and possession of child pornography. Court records show he communicated with a 16-year-old girl using a contraband cell phone while he was incarcerated at a state prison near Muskogee. The teenager’s grandfather reported their relationship to prison officials, according to an affidavit from a Department of Corrections investigator.
Justin Webster hopes that all these trials will lead to tougher criminal penalties for sex offenders, especially those who attack children.
“The sex (offender) registry is not working,” he said. “I believe that measures should be taken. There must be consequences and someone must be held accountable. They unleashed a monster. They did it.”
McFadden’s attorney in the case did not return a phone message left Monday evening.
Grim discovery in Oklahoma keeps US on hot streak for 2023 mass murders and could push the number of people killed in mass murders to 100 for the year. by database supported by the Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Rice acknowledged another gruesome homicide last fall in Oklamulgee County. The bodies of the four men were found Oct. 14 in the Deep Fork River in Okmulgee, a small town about 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of Henrietta. Joseph Kennedy, 68, was accused on four counts of first-degree murder.
“We’ve had our share of troubles and misfortunes, but this one is very bad,” the sheriff said.
Brittany Brewer’s father told KOTV in Tulsa that one of the bodies found was his daughter’s.
“Brittany was a sociable person. She was actually chosen as Miss Henrietta… in July at the Miss National pageant in Tulsa. And now she won’t make it, because she died. She’s gone,” Nathan Brewer said.
At a Monday evening vigil, Brewer told hundreds of people, “This is a parent’s worst nightmare, and I’m living it.”
He said his daughter dreamed of being a teacher or a veterinarian.
“I just got lost,” he said.
Ivy Webster’s mother, Ashley, described her daughter as a wonderful child who loved animals.
“She loved softball. She loved people, animals. She was just a good person. She really was,” Ashley Webster said.
Mayo described her daughter Holly Hess as a caring parent.
“She was a fantastic mother. She loved her children incredibly. She was overprotective, Mayo said. “She supported them when they wanted to do something. She would come out 100%.”
Granddaughter Riley Allen “had a talent for the brush,” she said. “Riley wanted to be an artist and wanted to be a doctor so she could help people.”
Michael Mayo ran track and cross country, and when he wanted to play football, his mother went out and bought the family T-shirts and sweatshirts to support the team, Mayo said. Tiffany Hess also ran cross country, was in choir and was just trying out for cheerleading.
“She was the sweetest, most loving girl you could ever meet,” Mayo said. “We called her ‘Typhosaurus’ because when she got mad at you, she roared.”
Henryetta Public Schools said the community is grieving the loss of several students.
“Our hearts are hurting and we have considered what would be best for our students in the coming days,” the district said in a statement posted online.