- Police in Houston, Texas, arrested 33-year-old Haskell Wednesday night after a tense stand-off at a suburban cul-de-sac
- He is charged with shooting dead six members of the same family
- Haskell and his wife Melanie Kaye Haskell were married in 2002 in California
- Melanie feels she’s ‘paid the ultimate price for freedom’, her divorce lawyer Al Barker told MailOnline, adding: ‘But I felt terrible because it is not her fault’
- Lone survior, Cassidy Stay, 15, was released from hospital today
- A bullet grazed her head and she played dead until Haskell left
The ex-wife of suspected killer Ron Lee Haskell – who fled her abusive and violent husband after 11 years of marriage – believes she has paid the ‘ultimate price for freedom’, her former divorce lawyer told MailOnline.
Al Barker, the lawyer who represented Melanie Lyon in her divorce from Haskell, revealed she made the heart-breaking statement to family members after discovering her ex had slaughtered six of her relatives in cold blood.
Melanie’s sister Katie Stay, brother-in-law Stephen and four of their young children were gunned down at their Texas home on Wednesday.
Melanie Lyon Haskell, pictured here with then-husband Ronald and the couple’s three children is in ‘shock’ over the massacre. Al Barker, her former lawyer who became good friends with her, said: ‘I just hope other victims (of domestic violence) don¿t look at her case and think,”this could happen to me”‘
Mr Barker, who works for Utah Legal Services, revealed that Melanie is still in ‘shock’ over the massacre as she tried to come to terms with the reasons behind it.
Mr Barker tried to reach out to Melanie on Thursday but instead spoke to her mother Kelly Lyon.
‘It was a really brief conversation, I was trying to call Melanie to express my condolences, but her mom answered,’ said Mr Barker.
‘I asked her how Melanie was doing and she told me that Melanie was in shock over what happened.’
But for Mr Barker – who grew to know Melanie well during the seven month divorce – what she said next was hard to take.
He said: ‘Melanie’s mother told me something that her daughter had said after the incident.
‘She said that she had to pay the ultimate price for freedom.
‘That sounds like something Melanie would have said, knowing her, it’s something that would have come out of her mouth.
‘But I felt terrible because it is not her fault’.
Accused mass shooter Ronald Lee Haskell is escorted by deputies for a hearing in Houston, Texas
Haskell is accused of killing four children aged 4 to 14 and their parents in the Houston suburb of Spring
History: On the left is Ron Lee Haskell’s mugshot taken following his arrest, while on the right is an undated mugshot taken from one of many run-ins with Utah authorities over the past six-years for domestic abuse
Total tragedy: This photograph is shows Stephen Stay, 39 and Katie Stay, 34 and their five children, including their heroic 15-year-old daughter, Cassidy, (left to right) Rebecca, seven, Emily, nine, Zachary, four and Bryan, 14
Today new details of the bitter split between Melanie and husband Haskell have emerged.
Neighbors at their old family home in Logan, Utah say the couple had been building a house in nearby Smithfield, but Melanie tried to escape her abusive marriage before it was completed.
Haskell pleaded guilty to simple assault in a domestic violence-related incident in 2008, according to Utah state court records.
‘Melanie Haskell stated her husband Ronald had (dragged) her by her hair and struck her in the head, and then did it again in front of the children,” according to Logan police.
The abuse allegedly continued after that court case ended.
‘She was tired of him beating her up and her children witnessing it. And when she saw her oldest child start to become violent, she chose to move into a (Community Abuse Prevention Service Agency) home for their safety,’ neighbor Jolyn Young told local Utah paper the Deseret News.
‘I was heartbroken, just sick and devastated,’ she said.
While in the process of building their homes, Young said Melanie confided in her that she had left her husband.
According to Deseret News she and her children had reportedly gone to live in a secure location for their safety, following years of abuse.
Arrested: The Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office says 33-year-old Ron Lee Haskell, shot seven family members, including two adults and five children on Wednesday night in Houston, Texas
Arrest: Law enforcement officers surround Ron Haskell on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, in Spring, Texas. After hours of waiting and negotiations, the suspect emerged from his car, raised his hands and sank to his knees
Like many victims of abuse, Melanie told Young that she always thought things would improve, but when she saw one of her children exhibit violent behavior similar to her husband, that was her breaking point.
Shockingly, Young said Melanie wanted to buy new pots and pans for her home — because the set she had reminded her of the times Haskell allegedly struck her with them.
Mr Barker says he’s now anxious to reach out to Melanie to offer her words of support.
‘She needs space right now but I don’t want her to feel like this is her own fault, she did everything right. She was going through a difficult relationship, she knew it was harmful for her and her family.
‘She did all the right things to get out. I just hope that other victims don’t look at her case and think, “this could happen to me”.
‘Most of the time in a domestic violence situation the victim ends up dying a slow emotional death, being fearful, being manipulated and being controlled and doing everything you can do get out of that relationship is best for the individual so they can make a better life for themselves and their children.
‘Melanie did all the right things, this is just a terrible tragedy.’
Mr Barker said he only saw Haskell on a few occasions during the divorce, but each time he was ‘silent, and he was calm and he was collected’.
But the attorney doesn’t believe that was the case behind closed doors.
‘We had some serious concerns about his stability,’ Mr Barker said. ‘I think Melanie knew she needed to get out of this relationship.’
Scene unfolding: This was the scene last night in Houston after 34-year-old Ron Lee Haskell reportedly opened fire on members of his family in Houston
Stand off: The suspect, a male, was in his car during a stand off with police
Investigation: Harris County Precinct 4 constables stand at the door of a home where several people were shot to death, in the Houston suburb of Spring, in Texas late July 9, 2014
Tragedy: A Harris County Medical Examiner places one of the six bodies found in a house after several people were shot to death, into the coroner’s van in the Houston suburb of Spring, in Texas early July 10, 2014
Mr Barker said he spoke to Melanie not long after she left Utah to be close to family in Texas earlier this year and said she appeared to have moved on with her life.
‘We never expected something like this to happen,’ he added.
According to the Associated Press, murder victim Katie Stay traveled to Utah last fall to help her sister Melanie get away from the abusive marriage.
Melanie never moved into her new home.
The couple’s divorce was finalized on February 14 and part of their divorce decree required Haskell to obtain a psychological evaluation and provide documentation that he is emotionally and mentally stable enough to care for his children without supervision.
A judge granted joint custody of the couple’s four kids, with Haskell’s wife getting primary custody.
The Haskells were married in California in 2002. They separated in June of 2013.
In August of 2013, Melanie reported a protective order violation to police.
Parents: Katie and Stephen Stay were shot dead in their Houston home along with four of their five children by their former brother-in-law, Ron Haskell
In October of 2013, Melanie reported another possible protective order violation because Haskell had shown up at one of the children’s elementary schools.
This protective order was actually served on him the day of the complaint. ‘Neither protective order violations were prosecuted,’ police said in a statement.
Today support for the devastated Stay family is still growing and a fund set up to raise money for them has reached almost $150,000 with a new goal of $200,000.
Former Navy officer Jody Dellinger, a District Manager at Harris County Parks and Recreation, set up the fund with first responder Sergeant George Beck, the officer who found the massacre scene in Spring, Texas.
Jody wrote on the site this morning: ‘We just broke $106,000 this morning at 0840, only about 20 hours after the site was created.
This incredible outpouring has already brought this ole, rough, retired Navy Chief to tears! I cannot express how proud and excited I am to be a part of such an awesome show of love that this site has become!’
Meanwhile, the lone teenage survivor of the cold-blooded attack was released from hospital today, according to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.
In to a statement the hospital said the 15-year-old was discharged earlier this afternoon in good condition and is expected to make a full recovery.
‘As a hospital team, we were honored to be able to help care for this brave young woman at her critical time of need. The entire staff at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital has been profoundly touched by Cassidy’s resilient spirit, inner strength, and hopeful heart during this time of indescribable shock and grief,’ the hospital said.
‘We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to her, and her extended family, as they begin the difficult healing process.’
Cassidy had been hailed a hero after playing dead when Ron Haskell allegedly shot her in the head before executing we whole family.
She escaped with her life and called the police shortly after Haskell left the home in Spring, Texas.
Her mother, father and four siblings all lay dead next to her.
Cassidy was able to warn police that the shooter had left to find her grandparents and shoot them too.
Her grandparents have said they are in ‘awe’ of her bravery.
Cassidy was always expected to make a full physical recovery after it emerged that amazingly the bullet only grazed her head.
But she reportedly also lost a finger in the attack.