Accused Killer Had Troubled History
WARRENSBURG, Mo. (AP) _ To his friends and neighbors, Raymond E. Wood seemed to have nothing but boundless love for his wife and six children.
He often was seen with one of the children in his arms. He hunted with the boys, built a swing set for his girls and insisted on ``family time″ each night after dinner.
Wood even delivered his last three children himself at the family’s rural home in central Missouri _ their births were too precious to leave in the hands of a doctor he didn’t know.
That’s why so many were in disbelief when they heard that Wood had been arrested for allegedly killing his wife and four of his children with a shotgun on Valentine’s Day.
``You have to understand, Ray was one of the most dedicated and loving fathers we had ever seen,″ said Della Davis, who lived next door for about six years. ``This just doesn’t seem possible.″
Wood was charged Tuesday in the deaths of Tina Wood, 31, and her sons Jared, 10, and Joshua, 8, and daughters Emily, 7, and Hannah, 5. He also was charged with two counts of first-degree assault against his other two daughters, who were wounded.
Wood was moved to a state mental health facility for evaluation. If he is found competent to stand trial, he could face the death penalty.
The victims were buried Saturday in an emotional ceremony near their home. During the service, speakers remembered Tina Wood as a giving woman who passed her character on to her six children.
``She was always involved, always wanting to do for others,″ said pastor Dale Jenkins.
While most people knew Wood as a religious man devoted to his family, others said he battled depression and mental illness.
Davis and others say Wood took anti-depression medication to control his moods, which at times would overwhelm him so much that he would seek refuge at his parents’ home up the road.
``He never let anyone see him when he was like that. He just went to his parents and they dealt with it. They took care of him and everything was fine,″ Davis said. ``I would say 95 percent of the time Ray was fine, but those other moments were also part of his life and he did his best to deal with it.″
Wood, 36, and his wife grew up in Alaska. They married in 1987 and moved to Warrensburg about 10 years ago to live next to his parents, Gerald and Carol Wood, who declined to be interviewed for this story.
The couple joined a Restoration church, an offshoot of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Tina Wood served as music director and the family attended each Sunday, including the day before the killings, said pastor Jenkins.
``Everyone in our congregation is completely torn up over how this could have happened,″ Jenkins said.
Wood worked with his father in a chimney repair business. His wife home-schooled the four older children and gave piano lessons.
``Every evening they had family time, where they would sit around playing games and reading Scripture,″ said LaRhona Sanderson. Her 8-year-old son, Brett, was friends with Jared and Joshua and took piano lessons from their mother.
``Last Wednesday night Brett called to see if he could stay and watch a baby goat being born at the Woods’ house. I said it was fine. I never once thought it was anything but safe for him to be there,″ she said.
Only a few people knew about Raymond Wood’s struggle with mental illness.
In his hometown of Anchorage, Wood spent two months in a psychiatric institution in 1985 after allegedly breaking into a home and having a confrontation with police.
Sharon Warrick, who had known Wood since he was a boy, said she visited him there.
``He was medicated most of the time and he believed that he had contacted God. At one point he thought he was God. ″ Warrick said in a telephone interview. ``When he was running from police he thought he was invisible.″
In Warrensburg, friends say, Wood occasionally went to Pathways Community Behavioral Health Clinic. Neighbor Doug Stanke said Tina Wood sometimes had trouble getting her husband to take the medication the clinic prescribed.
``We knew he wasn’t well, but we never thought it was anything significant,″ Stanke said.