The parents of the Southern California man who was shot and killed along with his wife and children in a Houston suburb say they are leaning on their faith to help get them through this difficult period.
"I don't believe that this was their time, but because of the circumstance it happened," Stephen Stay’s mother Joyce Stay said. "They are no longer with us."
Stephen Stay, his wife Katie and their five children were shot execution style in their home Wednesday, allegedly by Ronald Haskell, the ex-husband of Katie Stay’s sister. Only the couple’s 15-year-old daughter Cassidy survived.
"(Cassidy) put her hands over her head, and she was shot at the side of her head. (It) grazed her head," Stephen Stay’s father Thomas Stay said. "She had nine stitches."
Thomas Stay and his wife Joyce Stay live in Menifee and are part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Stay family has known Haskell since he was a young boy living in San Diego County. Their families went on church missions together.
Thomas Stay said that Haskell was a good kid who must have changed as he got older, and suggested that he was now suffering from a mental illness.
"But you’d have to. How can you kill little children, you know," Thomas Stay said. "You can’t. Unless something’s wrong."
Haskell collapsed twice Friday when he appeared before a judge in a Texas courtroom Friday – possibly as a result of realizing the severity of his alleged actions.
As for why Stephen Stay’s family was targeted, Thomas Stay says that his son had
"a wonderful family" and that perhaps Haskell "was jealous."
Haskell and his wife divorced earlier this year, and she received full physical custody of their children
Haskell had a criminal history that included being arrested for domestic violence – charges that were later dismissed.
After the shooting, Cassidy, the lone survivor, played dead and called 911 after the gunman left the home. Police said that Haskell was trying to find his ex-wife and that he was headed to her parents’ home next – a tip that the severely wounded Cassidy was able to tell authorities minutes after the shooting.
Cassidy is being hailed a hero, as the tip she offered law enforcement officials allowed them to locate the suspect, who took them on a 30-minute chase that ended with a three-hour standoff.
Joyce and Stephen Stay left the Inland Empire for Texas Friday to be with their granddaughter Cassidy. They say she will make a full recovery.
"You have to forgive. And you have to get passed this," Joyce Stay said. "I have faith."