*Warning – The information you are about to read may include discussions of true crimes, graphic details, and crime scenes, this may be too graphic for some people, please use discretion when reading*
Serial killers, mass murderers, spree killers, they are all similar in that they plan to take a life. What makes them different is the timing of their murders. A serial killer has a methodic way of hunting, capturing, and murdering their victims. After the crime, they are usually able to “cool off” for weeks, months, or at times years before killing again. A mass murderer kills a lot of people in one location at one time. A spree killer is a person who kills two or more people, over a short period of time, experts agree up to seven days for a spree killer. Today I wanted to talk about a spree killer and his family.
Ronald Gene Simmons was born in Chicago in 1940. He was raised in a military home, and moved often. In 1957 Ronald joined the US Navy and was stationed in Washington where he met his wife, Rebecca “Becky” Ulibarri, whom he married in July 1960 in New Mexico. Ronald was a career military man, starting in the Navy and retiring from the Air Force as a Master Sergeant.
In 1961, Ronald and Becky welcomed their first child, Ronald Gene Simmons Jr. In 1963, their daughter Sheila was born. By 1979, they had a total of seven children. However, all was not as it seemed in the Simmons house. By 1981, Ronald was being investigated for fathering a child with his 17-year-old daughter Sheila. The child’s name was Sylvia.
Fearing that he would be arrested, Ronald moved the family to Arkansas, eventually settling on a 13 acre piece of land, near Dover, Arkansas. They named the property Mockingbird Hill. The residence consisted of two older model mobile homes, joined together, neither of which had a telephone or indoor plumbing. There was a makeshift privacy fence as high as 10 feet in some areas, the family was secluded as much as possible.
Because of this isolated home compound, Ronald was able to carry out one of the worst family massacres the United States has ever seen. It all started on December 22, 1987…
The morning of December 22, Ronald made the decision to murder his entire family. He first killed his wife, Becky and eldest son Gene, by shooting them with a .22 caliber pistol. He then killed his 3 year old granddaughter, Barbara by strangulation. Ronald put all the bodies into a cesspool that the kids had dug previously. The four youngest Simmons kids were at school, so he waited at the house for them to return.
He told the kids that he wanted to give them presents, one at a time. His 17 year old daughter, Loretta, was first. He strangled her and then held her under the water in the rain barrel. The other three children, 14 year old Eddy, 11 year old Marianne, and 8 year old Becky, were then killed the same way.
Around mid-day, on December 26, the remaining family members arrived for a Christmas visit. The first to be killed were Ronald’s son, Billy and his wife Renata, who were both shot dead. He then strangled their 20 month old son, Trae. Ronald then murdered his daughter Sheila and her husband Dennis. He strangled his daughter he had with Sheila, 7 year old Sylvia, and his 21 month old grandson Michael. He placed all of these bodies neatly in the lounge. Covered with coats except for Sheila, he covered her with the best tablecloth that Rebecca Simmons had. His two grandsons, were wrapped in plastic sheeting and left in abandoned cars at the end of the lane.
Ronald left the home and went to a local bar, when he returned he spent the rest of the evening and the following day drinking beer and watching television.
It all ends on December 28….Ronald woke on December 28, and drove into Russellville, walked into a law office and killed the receptionist named Kathy Kendrick. He had previously been infatuated with her and she had rejected him. Next he went to an oil company office and shot a man named J.D. Chaffin and wounded the owner Rusty Taylor. Next he drove to a convenience store where he previously had worked, shooting and wounding two more people. Afterwards he went to the Woodline Motor Freight Company where he shot and wounded a woman. Then being done with his spree, he sat and chatted with the secretaries while waiting for police. He handed over his gun and surrendered with no resistance.
In a weeks time, Ronald has managed to kill 16 people, 14 of which were his entire family, and two strangers. He had wounded four people.
Ronald was charged with 16 counts of murder, found guilty, and sentenced to death. He refused to appeal, instead looking forward to his execution. Other death row inmates, threatened him daily and he was separated from them. They threatened him because he refused to appeal his conviction and the others believed it would damage their chances.
On May 31, 1990, then Governor Bill Clinton signed his execution warrant, and on June 25, 1990, Ronald died by lethal injection. None of his surviving family claimed his body and he was buried in a potter’s field.
That my friends is the story of a spree murderer. What are your thoughts? Why did he do it? I find it very interesting that he opted to not appeal his case, as that is something you don’t often see death row inmates do. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments and share any ideas you have about why Ronald Gene Simmons killed his whole family and two innocent individuals.
*Shout out to Jennifer Y. for mentioning this case to me*
Be ever alert, make good choices, stay safe