Sex offender fatally shot 6, then killed self, official says
OKMULGEE, Okla. — An Oklahoma sex offender who was released from prison early shot his wife, her three children and their two friends in the head and then killed himself, authorities confirmed Wednesday as concerns grew about why he was free in the first place.
Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice said that the victims had sustained between one and three wounds to the head when they were found Monday on a rural Oklahoma property. Jesse McFadden, a 39-year-old convicted sex offender, then shot himself, Prentice said in the first major update on the case.
The victims' bodies were found near a creek and in a heavily wooded area.
“The evidence is that Jesse McFadden murdered six people and then killed himself. Beyond that, I don’t know what his thought process was," Prentice said. “I’m not going to express a theory because I follow the evidence, and I don’t have any evidence about what the motive was.”
Family members have questioned how a rapist accused of soliciting nude images from another teen while behind bars was ever allowed to go free.
The shooting happened as a series of ominous text messages — sent by McFadden to his young accuser hours before his trial was to begin on felony charges of soliciting and possessing images of child sex abuse — suggested that he blamed the woman for ending his “great life” and that he was determined not to return to prison.
According to screen grabs of the messages, forwarded to KOKI in Tulsa by the now 23-year-old woman McFadden allegedly groomed from prison, he said he was having success at a marketing job and “making great money.”
“Now it's all gone,” he texted. “I told you I wouldn't go back.”
“This is all on you for continuing this,” he finished.
A solicitation conviction can mean a 10-year sentence; the pornography charge could mean 20 years behind bars.
Prentice declined though to speculate on whether that is what led to the shooting.
“Everyone wants to understand why," he said. "Normal people can’t understand why. People who perpetrate crimes like this are evil and normal folks like us can’t understand why they do it.”
Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Edwards said the young woman shared the text messages with him as well. "They are tragic. Let’s just say that. He more or less blames her for what he did and that’s the part I really have the problem with, because she didn’t do anything wrong,” Edwards told Tulsa-based KOTV.
Authorities began a search after McFadden failed to appear at his long-delayed jury trial on Monday in Muskogee County. His body was later discovered along with his wife, her son and daughters, and two other teens who were visiting the family over the weekend.
Now family members of the victims are asking why McFadden, sentenced to 20 years in 2003 for first-degree rape in the sexual assault of a 17-year-old, was freed three years early, in part for good behavior, despite facing new charges that he used a contraband cell phone in 2016 to trade nude photos with the woman, then 16. He was released in 2020 after 16 years and nine months, even though the charges could send him back to prison for many years if convicted.
“And they rushed him out of prison. How?" asked Janette Mayo. She said she was told that her daughter, Holly Guess, 35, and her grandchildren, Rylee Elizabeth Allen, 17; Michael James Mayo, 15; and Tiffany Dore Guess, 13, were all shot to death.
“Oklahoma failed to protect families. And because of that my children -- my daughter and my grandchildren -- are all gone,” Mayo said. "I’ve lost my daughter and my grandchildren and I’m never going to get to see ’em, never going to get to hold them, and it’s killing me.”
Justin Webster, who said he allowed his 14-year-old Ivy Webster to join a sleepover at the McFadden home not knowing anything about the man's past, raised similar concerns about McFadden's release.
“To get to save some other children, to make a change is what I want to do," Webster told The AP during a tearful interview Tuesday in Henryetta, expressing a determination to “tell Ivy’s story and our story and get our government officials and everybody to start speaking up loud and keeping those pedophiles in jail.”
"There needs to be repercussions and somebody needs to be held accountable. They let a monster out. They did this,” Webster said.
A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday on why McFadden was released despite facing new felony charges.
Prosecutors objected to any early release from prison, noting that he tied a 17-year-old’s hands and feet to bedposts, cut her shirt off and raped her at knifepoint. At one point, he threatened to use the knife on her if she "did not shut up,” the records show.
The circumstances have alarmed Republican state Rep. Justin Humphrey, who chairs his chamber’s Criminal Judiciary Committee. He told The AP in a text that he's working with another lawmaker on legislation that would “stop tragedies of this nature from occurring again.”
He said the effort also will involve trying to determine how a person could commit sex crimes in prison and be released on good behavior, and how McFadden was able to be in contact with minors while on sex offender supervision.
Court records show McFadden was charged with the new crimes in 2017 after the young woman's relative alerted authorities. Set free in October 2020, he was arrested the next month and then released on $25,000 bond pending the trial, which was repeatedly delayed, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
McFadden married Holly Guess in May 2022; what she knew of his record isn't clear. Mayo said the family didn’t learn about her son-in-law's criminal history until a few months ago.
“He lied to my daughter, and he convinced her it was all just a huge mistake,” said Mayo, of Westville. “He was very standoffish, generally very quiet, but he kept my daughter and the kids basically under lock and key. He had to know where they were at all times, which sent red flags up.”
According to Okmulgee County Sheriff Eddy Rice, the seven bodies were found on the property where McFadden lived near Henryetta, a town of about 6,000 about 90 miles (145 kilometers) east of Oklahoma City. The dead bodies included the two teens who had been reported as missing and in danger — Webster, 14, and Brittany Brewer, 16.
Brittany Brewer’s father confirmed that his daughter was among the dead. At a vigil Monday night, Nathan Brewer said “It’s just a parent’s worst nightmare, and I’m living it.”
The grim discovery could push the number of people slain in mass killings past 100 for the year, according to a database maintained by The AP and USA Today in a partnership with Northeastern University.
Associated Press data journalist Larry Fenn and researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.
Sean Murphy, The Associated Press