Arkansas · Massacres/Mass Murder

Man executed for the 6-day killing spree which claimed the lives of 16, mostly his family members

June 25, 1990
Lincoln County, Arkansas
Ronald Gene Simmons is executed for a 6-day murder spree in which he killed 16 people, including 14 of his family members as young as a year old

Starting on December 22, 1987, Simmons began shooting, strangling, or drowning 14 members of his family: his wife, 6 daughters (one of whom was also his granddaughter), 3 sons, 2 grandsons, a daughter-in-law, and a son-in-law. After six days of bloodshed, Simmons drove from Dover, Arkansas to Russellville and killed a woman who had rejected his advances and a man who seemingly had no connection with Simmons, and wounded 3 others. He then patiently waited for police to arrive while chatting with a secretary.

The motive behind the attack seems to have stemmed from an obsession with his daughter Shiela. Shiela became pregnant Simmons’ daughter/granddaughter when she was 17. When confronted by a school counselor, she confirmed rumors that she was carrying her father’s child. As he was investigated for child abuse and molestation, Simmons wrote her a letter reading “You have destroyed me, and you have destroyed my trust in you… I will see you in Hell.” Though things between Simmons and Sheila smoothed over, she eventually moved out and married. Simmons became noticeably more depressed over the years due to Shiela’s absence. Another theory involved Simmons’ wife Rebecca, who recently threatened divorce. Simmons never explained his reasoning behind the rampage.

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. None of his remaining family claimed his body and he was buried in a potter’s field.

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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