A troubled mother in Port St. John, Florida reportedly sent her family text messages asking to be cremated along with her four children before killing them and herself early this morning. The deaths came after a standoff with the police and SWAT team, who were hoping to rescue the children before entering the home.
During a news conference earlier today, Lt. Tod Goodyear confirmed the five deaths of four children ages 12 to 17 and their mother. According to Goodyear, a call came in to 911 at approximately 5:00 a.m. Neighbors had been awakened by three of the children knocking on their door, possibly seeking help. At that point they were injured but still alive.
What happened next has haunted neighbors and those familiar with the story: the teens then returned back to their home after their mother called for them.
Joel Johnson, 12; Jazlin Johnson, 13; Jaxs Johnson, 15; and Pebbles Johnson, 17 were all found dead by authorities. Their mother, 33-year-old Tanya Thomas, is believed to have shot and killed them all before turning the gun on herself.
When authorities arrived on the scene, they found one woman dead on the front lawn and heard three gunshots. They saw a woman, most likely Thomas, standing in the doorway. She returned back into the home and fired another shot before police were able to safely enter the home.
Right now authorities are beginning the hard task of investigating the crime scene and tending to the victims' family. Goodyear explained that they "have no idea on motive. Evidence has been collected," he stated.
"The investigation is ongoing and very sensitive with five fatalities," Maj. John Mellick said in a public statement. "The scene is secure and there is no further threat to the community."
"If it becomes necessary, we are fully prepared to support the schools in whatever capacity necessary," spokeswoman Christine Davis told local Orlando news.
Police had previously been called to the residence for a domestic disturbance, though Goodyear would not provide further detail. The children's father has been notified but was not living in the home at the time of the killing.