Chesterfield father texted friend before killing family, self - WNEM TV 5

Chesterfield father texted friend before killing family, self

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Friends say a Chesterfield woman had asked for a divorce about a week before she and her children were killed by her husband.

Police say Barry Jernigan shot and killed his two-year old-son, Seth, his nine-year-old step-daughter, Alexis Kellas, and his wife, Renotta, before killing himself.

Renotta's best friend, Courtney Winn, received text messages from Barry the night of the murders. The two childhood friends had just finished setting up a birthday party.

"We raised our kids together, we do everything together," says Winn.

Renotta had asked Barry for a divorce eight days before the murders, according to Winn, but Barry wasn't taking it well and was sending cryptic text messages to friends. Winn says she got these messages two hours before Barry killed his family and then himself.

"I wanted to tell you that I'm sorry," reads one message. Another says, "Hating her is the only way I can breathe on my own. I guess I can say I loved to hate her and I hate loving her."

Winn says Barry posted the words, "God give me the strength not to do this," on a work thread and his boss called police, but by the time officers got to the home on Fox Maple Terrace the family had been shot. Winn says she believes the children were murdered first.

"[The neighbors] heard a woman scream, shots, and a woman scream," says Winn.

The couple's son, Seth, died last at the hospital. 

Winn says she thought Barry had come to terms with the divorce, since he had retained a lawyer on Friday. She says she has no pity for him and that Renotta and the children are the only ones that matter.

A small memorial for the victims is now growing beside the children's toys at the home.

Another friend who knew Barry well says he was a good father, and she never noticed any jealous tendencies. She says he had gone to the movies with his 13-year-old son from another relationship the night before the murders. That child was not home when this happened.

Friends have set up a fund to help pay for Renotta Jernigan and her children's funeral costs.  You can donate to any Bank of McKenney under her name.

Renotta's sister say her family is coming from Mississippi to bury their loved ones. 

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