Simmons Described as Domineering, Family Isolated With AM-Multiple Killings, Bjt
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ A retired Air Force sergeant linked with the deaths of 16 people was described Tuesday as close-mouthed and tight-fisted, a quiet man who kept his family isolated, hard at work and - when he was around - wary of contact with others.
″I called him a slavedriver,″ said Karen Shaddon, a resident of the rural community where the family of R. Gene Simmons lived. ″He’d have them (his children) carrying five-gallon jugs″ of dirt, working on keeping maintaining a steeply sloped driveway to the family’s house.
Simmons, 47, was arrested Monday after two people were killed and four others wounded in a shooting spree at four different businesses around the west-central Arkansas city of 15,000. When authorities went to the Simmons home Monday, they found the bodies of five people inside, and nine more bodies were discovered Tuesday morning outside the house.
Juanita Meadows, another resident of the neighborhood, recalled scenes similar to what Mrs. Shaddon had sketched.
″The children would work by the road and have buckets, picking up sand that came down,″ she said.
When Simmons wasn’t at home, she said, the children would wave at passers- by, but when Simmons was with the youngsters, they wouldn’t look up.
Summer Mooney, 17, a classmate and friend of one of Simmons’ dead children, 17-year-old Loretta, said Loretta didn’t like her father at all.
″She said he was a drunken bum. She was real mean to him,″ Ms. Mooney said, adding that Loretta’s sentiments were shared by Simmons’ wife, Becky, who was among the dead found Tuesday.
On occasions when she would spend the night at the Simmons home with her friend, Ms. Mooney said, Simmons ″had a beer in his hand all the time. He had one little room he would stay in all the time. It was dark and seemed spooky and it stunk. Nobody ever went in there but him.″
Another classmate of Loretta’s, Jennifer Mayhew, 17, said: ″I knew none of the children liked their father much at all. He was kind of quiet, coming from a military background, he was very reserved. He wasn’t the kind of person you could sit and visit with.″
Mrs. Simmons’ sister, Edith Nesby of Briggsdale, Colo., said she and other members of the family ″knew that Gene Simmons always was a little screwy. He was always very strange and very dominant.″
Nesby said her sister may have lived with her husband’s dominance because, when they first married in 1960, she thought that domineering ways signified love. ″The only comfort we have now is that they are all together,″ she said.