Arkansas · Massacres/Mass Murder

A 6-day, 16-deaths murder spree ends

December 28, 1987
Russellville, Arkansas
Ronald Gene Simmons ends a murder spree which began 6 days before and ended with the deaths of 16 including 14 of his family members as young as a year old

Simmons, who had retired from a 20-year service in the Navy and Air Force, began his killing spree on December 22, starting with his wife and eldest son, both of whom were shot, and his granddaughter Barbara who was strangled. He dumped their bodies in a cesspit and waited for his other children to come home and told them he wanted to give them their Christmas presents early, but only one at a time. One by one, he strangled 4 of his children then held their heads under water in a rain barrel.

His remaining children and their families visited December 26 for Christmas, and they were systematically murdered as well. His son Billy and Billy’s wife Renata were shot to death and their 1-year-old son Trae was strangled and drowned. Simmons’ eldest daughter Sheila and her husband Dennis were shot. Sheila had been sexually abused by Simmons in the past and had given birth to his daughter/granddaughter Sylvia who was strangled along with Sheila’s son Michael.

On the 28th, Simmons drove into Russellville to shoot and kill a receptionist who had rejected his advances. He then went to an oil company office, killing one person and wounding the owner, then visiting a freight company where he wounded another victim; there seems to be no motive behind this target or the ones from the oil company, though he had previously been fired from the freight company for inappropriate sexual advances. After shooting his final victim, Simmons sat in an office, talked with a secretary, and calmly waited for police to arrive. There were no further incidents.

Simmons was found guilty of 16 counts of murder and sentenced to death. He refused any appeals, stating “To those who oppose the death penalty – in my particular case, anything short of death would be cruel and unusual punishment.” He was executed by lethal injection on June 25, 1990.

Simmons’ victims were:
December 22, 1987

  • Ronald Gene Simmons Jr. , 29, Son, Gunshot
  • Rebecca Simmons, 46, Wife, Gunshot
  • Barbara Simmons, 3, Granddaughter, Strangulation
  • Loretta Simmons, 17, Daughter, Strangulation
  • Eddy Simmons, 14, Son, Strangulation
  • Marianne Simmons, 11, Daughter, Strangulation
  • Rebecca “Becky” Simmons, 8, Daughter, Strangulation

December 26, 1987

  • William “Billy” Simmons II, 23, Son, Gunshot
  • Renata Simmons, 22, Daughter-in-Law, Gunshot
  • William H. “Trae” Simmons III, 1, Grandson, Drowning
  • Sheila Simmons McNulty, 24, Daughter, Gunshot
  • Dennis McNulty, 23, Son-in-Law, Gunshot
  • Sylvia Gail Simmons, 6, Daughter and Granddaughter, Strangulation
  • Michael Simmons, 20 months, Grandson, Strangulation

December 28, 1987

  • Kathy Kendrick, 24, Acquaintance, Gunshot
  • J.D. Chaffin, 33, Stranger, Gunshot

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