The man charged with slaughtering six of his ex-wife's relatives in their Texas home Wednesday had a turbulent relationship with her and had been arrested for domestic-related charges in 2008, police records show.
Ron Lee Haskell, 33, was looking for his ex-wife, Melannie Haskell, when he forced his way into her relatives’ home in the Houston suburb of Spring, police said. Haskell allegedly tied up five children — two boys, 4 and 13, and three girls, 7, 9 and 15 — as well as two adults, identified as husband-and-wife Stephen Stay, 39, and Katie Stay, 33. Each of them were shot execution-style in the back of the head, according to court documents.
The 15-year-old girl survived and called 911, later identifying the shooter as her ex-uncle, the documents said.
Police tracked down Ron Lee Haskell and arrested him after a more than three-hour standoff just after 10 p.m. local time.
A domestic dispute apparently drove Haskell to track down his ex-wife in Texas, although she wasn’t at the home at the time of the slayings. Their marriage was suffering from problems as early as 2008, when the couple was living in Cache County, Utah.
That year, Haskell was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, simple assault and committing an act of violence in front of children. Melannie Haskell told police her husband dragged her out of their bedroom by her hair and hit her in the side of the head.
Haskell said he had only pushed his wife, and that he was stressed from his job. The couple's children were ages 3 and 5 at the time. Haskell pleaded guilty to an assault charge.
In 2009, Haskell told police that his wife had left and he believed she was going to harm herself. He followed up, and said he found his wife and was taking her to the hospital, records show.
Then, a year ago, Melannie Haskell filed for an order of protection against him. A judge granted the order, and she filed for divorce the following month.
The divorce was an anguishing time for Haskell. His brother in California contacted police, records show, and asked them to perform a welfare check because he was worried he might hurt himself. The brother later called back and told police he spoke with him and that they didn't need to investigate.
In October, the protective order was dismissed when the Haskells agreed to a mutual restraining order in the divorce and custody arrangements involving their children. The judge also said Ron Lee Haskell’s visits would be supervised by a psychologist.
“Mr. Haskell’s parent time will be supervised until such time that his physical therapist can report that the respondent is no longer a threat to the children,” the judge wrote.
A relative told NBC News he had been living quietly with his parents in California since his divorce.
“It’s very devastating for the whole family,” the relative said. “They just don’t know how this happened.”
Haskell is charged with multiple counts of capital murder. According to Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Ron Hickman, he arrived at the Spring home “in the guise of a FedEx driver wearing a FedEx shirt.” Federal Express said in a statement that Haskell had “formerly provided service” for the company, but has not done so since January.
Only the 15-year-old girl was home at the time, and when Haskell realized his ex-wife wasn’t there, he kicked in the door to gain entrance, she later told police. He tied the girl up, and then also tied up the other victims when they later arrived home.
Hickman said that after Haskell left the home the injured teenage girl contacted authorities telling them the shooter was en route to shoot other family members.
Law enforcement personnel located Haskell’s car and a low-speed chase ensued, ending in a cul-de-sac, Hickman said. A standoff then lasted more than three hours before Haskell exited the car, sank to his knees and surrendered.
Online jail records did not list an attorney for Haskell.
The sheriff's department said precinct deputy constables were called to the house about 6 p.m. Wednesday and found the couple and three children dead. Another child later died at a hospital.
Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Thomas Gilliland said the surviving 15-year-old girl was in “very critical condition” at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston late Wednesday night.
Gilliland described Haskell after the standoff as “cool as a cucumber.” He said that when he and other officers first approached, Haskell was “just sitting in his car looking out at us.”
Hickman said Haskell surrendered without resistance.
“He was in the car for 3-1/2 hours. He was worn down like the rest of us,” he said.
NBC News' Erik Ortiz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published July 10 2014, 8:40 AM