The Facebook message arrived Sunday night. Jesse McFadden wrote that he was doing well at a marketing job and had made a great life, just “like I promised I would do with you.”
“Now it’s all gone,” he said in his message, which he sent with a photo of himself staring directly at the camera. “I told you I wouldn’t go back.”
“This is all on you for continuing this.”
Hours later, authorities found the bodies of McFadden, his wife, her three teenage children and two other teens who were at the McFadden home for a sleepover. On Wednesday, the police chief leading the investigation into the killings in rural Oklahoma said that McFadden — a convicted rapist who spent nearly 17 years in prison before his 2020 release — had likely shot all six in the head before killing himself.
The message, first reported by an Oklahoma Fox affiliate, was sent to a woman who said she was set to testify against McFadden in a child sex abuse trial scheduled to begin the same day the bodies were found.
The woman, Kaitlyn Babb, 23, provided the message to NBC News. It was sent from an account with the name "Holly Days," and the police chief leading the investigation just outside Henryetta, Okla., Joe Prentice, said he had reviewed the message and wasn't sure if it was sent before or after the killings.
In an email, Prentice said that he wasn't “willing to read too much into it.”
“It seemed to me he was blaming her for his situation for continuing the criminal case against him,” he said.
In an interview, Babb provided a harrowing account of how McFadden allegedly lured her into a predatory relationship as a teenager, convincing her from prison that they had a future together and threatening her when the relationship was revealed and charges were filed.
She said that she read the message as McFadden blaming her for the killings because she refused to back down from the child pornography and soliciting sexual conduct/communication with a minor charges.
“I thought I was protecting people,” she said. “I thought this was going to keep him from hurting more people.”
She added: “He took away my innocence, my childhood. I didn’t want him to do that to anyone ever again.”
Instead, Babb said, the worst possible scenario played out: She’ll never see justice and three families are grieving the lives of Ivy Webster, 14; Brittany Brewer, 15; Michael Mayo, 15; Tiffany Guess, 13; Rylee Allen, 17; and Holly McFadden, 35.
Babb said the failure of prosecutors to ever try the case — filed in 2017 and hampered by what she described as years of delays — signaled a miscarriage in the state’s justice system.
“They could have prevented these deaths,” Babb said. “This never should have happened. I don’t know how many times I told them, 'He’s a dangerous man; you’re putting little girls in danger.' I don’t know how many times I screamed at the top of my lungs for someone to care. Now look at what happened.”
Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Edwards did not respond to requests for comment. A story that cites Edwards from KOTV, a CBS affiliate in Tulsa, reported Tuesday that a trial had been set multiple times over the years and delayed because of several factors, including an earlier prosecutor leaving the job and another one breaking her foot the day before the trial.
An accidental meeting
Babb, a manager for a health insurance company in Texas, said she met McFadden by accident in 2015 after moving to Oklahoma from Texas to live with her grandparents. She had a new phone number and one night, got a message from McFadden. He was trying to reach the person the number previously belonged to, she said.
Babb responded. A transplant with no friends in her new town, in McFadden she found a person who seemed friendly and genuinely interested in her, she said. He didn’t disclose that he was in prison until later and described his rape conviction as a “misunderstanding,” Babb said.
McFadden asked for proof of her age, Babb said, so she provided him with an image of her learner’s permit. The back and forth quickly turned sexual, she said, and his requests became increasingly invasive.
“It was no longer, 'can you take your shirt off and take a picture?'” she said. “It was, how far can we get without seeing each other in person?”
“I knew I was doing something I shouldn’t have been doing,” she added. “He made me feel like he cared. Even though I was only 16 years old, I felt like he loved me.”
“I was brainwashed,” Babb said.
New sex abuse charges
The texts, letters, and phone and video calls continued for at least a year and a half, she said, even after her grandparents discovered a letter in her bedroom and reported it to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
Babb’s grandmother, Patsy Pappan, said McFadden had addressed it to a P.O. box that Babb said he’d asked her to open. McFadden signed the note as Babb’s “husband,” Pappan recalled.
“I was absolutely reeling,” said Pappan, 64.
Inmate profile documents from the department show that on July 8, 2016, a prison officer confiscated a smartphone from McFadden. A forensic audit showed “sexually themed conversations, videos and pictures” with a person whose name was redacted but whose date of birth — which is included in the document — matches Babb’s.
Charges against McFadden were filed Sept. 29, 2017, court records show. A lawyer for McFadden, Rex Starr, has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Court documents show McFadden planned to argue that it wasn't McFadden who was in contact with Babb, but another inmate using the same phone.
'He was sick'
After the phone was confiscated, McFadden continued to call Babb, she said. And she’d become so compliant to McFadden’s demands that at one point, she drove roughly two hours from her grandparents’ home in Norman to the county courthouse in Muskogee to ask them to drop the case.
The charges prompted a shift in McFadden’s demeanor, Babb said, and he began threatening her.
"It all turned for her at that point," Pappan said.
Babb said she dropped out of high school, left her grandparents' home for Texas and slowly stopped responding to McFadden’s calls. Eventually, Babb said, she blocked his number and told the district attorney she would testify against him.
"I realized he didn’t love me — he was sick," she said. "It was all made up.”
Ready to testify
On Sunday night, Babb was preparing to travel to Oklahoma the next day for her long-awaited day in court. She hadn’t spoken to McFadden in years when she noticed a Facebook message request around 8 p.m.
Initially, Babb was confused about what McFadden's message meant: Perhaps he’d lost his job and was blaming her for it, she recalled thinking. The message also suggested that he “must really not care anymore,” she said, because contacting her was a violation of the terms of his bail.
Babb said she didn’t respond. She took a screenshot and sent it to Edwards, the Muskogee County district attorney.
The next morning, Babb got a call from the prosecutor alerting her to another delay in the case: McFadden’s lawyer had asked for a continuance over an issue related to McFadden’s phone, Babb said.
A half-hour later, Babb said, the prosecutor called and told her of a missing persons notice about McFadden, Brittany Brewer and Ivy Webster. Babb said she immediately packed a bag and rented an AirBnB 45 minutes away.
“I was terrified he was coming for me,” she said.
In the days since the bodies were discovered, Babb said she’s experienced an onslaught of emotions — guilt and anger, frustration and grief. To Pappan, she's seen something else through the shame and humiliation that she said her granddaughter has been grappling with for years.
"She’s wanting to be heard," Pappan said. "She’s resilient. She would not back down from this.”
“I’m so proud of her,” she added.