A husband and wife leaving a Texas church on Saturday were shot and killed while exiting the building after visiting the man's daughter.
Nathan and Krystal Maddox, 35 and 30, respectively, were spending time with Nathan's 4-year-old daughter, Madison, at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in a visit supervised by the girl's maternal grandmother and a neutral third party.
Tyler County police arrived on scene on Saturday afternoon to find the couple dead of apparent gunshot wounds on the church's lawn. Sheriff Bryan Weatherford ruled out a murder/suicide and said that there were no witnesses at the time of the incident, as everyone at the church, including Madison, were inside during the attack.
"From the sheriff's standpoint, it is just a tragedy in what you call a small community," Weatherford told Lufkin Daily News. "In this area of the county, it is a small, tight-knit group. Everybody knows everybody."
According to a friend of the couple, the Maddoxes had been married for a little bit more than a year and had five children between them, though none together.
Nathan was in the process of regaining full custody of Madison, who had been under his ex-wife's custody since their divorce.
"This was going to be their last visitation at the church, and the next step would have been bringing her to Angelina County for the day, then overnight. After that, they would have moved to standard visitation," Nathan's attorney, Ryan Deaton, told Luftkin Daily News.
Deaton added that "[there was] no question" that Nathan was set to get full custody of his daughter.
According to Nathan's Give Forward fundraising page titled "Help Me Save My Daughter," his ex-wife had forbidden him to see his daughter for nine months in 2011 and later abandoned her with her parents after she began using meth and prostituting herself.
"By [her parents'] own admission I know that my daughter is frightened of her mother and hides when she is near," wrote Nathan. "In my ex wife's absence I was told I could see my daughter anytime, but when I attempted to pick my daughter up for weekends they refuse and have even attacked me while I was holding my daughter in my arms."
Nathan said that he was asking for financial help because the father of Krystal's four children did not pay child support and that the family had been cash-strapped trying to cover all of its costs.
"My wife and I are desperately praying for God to take control of all of this so that my daughter can get the help she needs to deal with what all she has seen and experienced. We are praying that God will help us with the finances needed to push forward with custody. We ask that God will lay it on each and every heart to remember us in your own prayer," he wrote in October 2013.
""I thank God everyday that there is a chance I'll see her; a chance that she may know her 'Dada' loves her. Each and everyday without her is a struggle that has taken a piece of me. Everyday without her I lose another piece of me," he added.
Madison's mother has been charged with methamphetamine delivery and possession, and has also been involved with counterfeit money, though she is currently free on bond, said Deaton.
Nathan's sister, Hannah Ogden, said that her brother had done his best to save his daughter's life.
"It's so senseless and crazy. I don't even know what to say now except pray for my family who is left with all the pain," she said. "If you didn't know Nathan or Krystal, then you will never know how amazing they were. All they wanted was to get that baby in a safe place. He died fighting for his baby girl."