Local News

Clayton Community Struggles With 4-Year-Old's Slaying

Posted January 15, 2007
Updated January 16, 2007

— Neighbors on Monday said a Clayton man accused of killing his 4-year-old daughter had children's toys piled high in his station wagon and appeared to be talking to himself when he pulled into his neighborhood Friday afternoon.

"He was mouthing something, talking to himself," said Lori McCreary. "I don't know what he was saying. It looked like he was in a rage of some sort."

That was at 1 p.m. Nearly four hours later, John Patrick Violette's wife, Amber, found their daughter, Katlin, dead in their home.

Investigators tracked John Violette to a Washington, D.C., hotel Saturday morning. He waived extradition and is expected to return to Clayton this week to face murder charges.

"He was unarmed, but deputy marshals had to use forced entry to get into the room," said Tex Lindsey with the North Carolina U.S. Marshal's Office. "He would not come out of the room."

For the past three days, Clayton residents have stopped by the house at 2020 McKinnon Drive with a toy, a candle or a prayer.

"It just brings tears to a parent's eyes knowing what happened to this child," said neighbor Patricia Ray.

McCreary said she could not get the image of the child's mother out of her mind.

"She kept saying, 'My baby's dead. My baby's dead,'" McCreary said. "We just held her."

Emergency responders are also struggling to cope with grief. The city called in crisis counselors Monday evening to help those troubled by what they saw.

Police and EMS workers found the child decapitated when they got to the home late Friday afternoon. Clayton police recovered two knives at the home and they are trying to determine if they have any connection to the case.

"We are accustomed to death and dying, generally of a natural nature, and when we see something that is not natural, something that is manmade to this magnitude, it stays with us, too," EMS Assistant Chief Jason Thomas said.

As part of the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, Thomas said, police officers, paramedics and 911 dispatchers sit as a group in a private setting to talk to grief counselors about what they saw and how they feel.

EMS Capt. Marvin Parrish, who was one of the first three responders at the scene, said it was one of the worst crime scenes they have ever dealt with -- both the scene itself and the mother's grief.

"There's really not words to explain what we went through. It's pretty bad," he said.

Clayton investigators have said very little about the case and have not said what might have happened. John Violette does not have a criminal record, they said.

WRAL has learned that Violette quit his job at Lowe's Home Improvement store near Clayton on Thursday. The corporate office said he worked there for five years, but would not release any more details.

In a 911 call released Saturday, Amber Violette tells a 911 dispatcher that her husband was having a daddy-daughter day with the child. She had lunch with them around noon, she said.

"When senseless violence occurs, it's tragic enough. But when it includes a child, it's even more tragic for the community," Clayton police Chief Glen Allen said Friday.

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  • Execution Style Jan 17, 2007

    i'd rather see the baby than the freak. And as for the 911 call it's a matter of public record and WRAL is just making it available. If you don't want to see it then don't look.

  • bjcoker Jan 16, 2007

    Thanks for having the picture of that precious baby in your paper. She should NOT be remembered by what was done to her, but exactly as she looked in the picture, a happy precious child.

  • Strong31 Jan 16, 2007

    To those who have a problem with the posting of this little girl's picture, I honestly do not understand why this is an issue. We should be protesting against WRAL showing the "smiling" picture of the monster who killed her, disclosing the way this child died, and for playing that distressing 911 call of this child's mother, now that was bad taste! The way this child died and that 911 tape was personal and should have been made available to the family only! I am glad that they put a picture of this precious child up, so that we will remember the way she was instead of only the way she died. I am a mother of a 5-year-old little girl, and God forbid if anything like this were to ever happen to her, I would want the public to remember her for her joy, laughter, and pretty smile, whether than the way he life might have ended. My heart goes out to this mother and she is definitely in my prayers.

  • Screen name Jan 16, 2007

    Thanks WRAL for giving a victim a face. People need to be shocked, this is how change comes about. We need to stop putting our heads in the sand and start making changes. Some of you want the picture to be taken down so you can stay in your comfort zone and whine about "as a mother..." this or "as a parent..." that.

  • ThatsWhatIThought Jan 16, 2007

    As a mother of a little girl, I am asking WRAL to remove the picture of this little girl. Seeing her picture causes so much emotion to run through me. She is an angel in heaven now and that's how we need to picture her. I'm sure her father will plead insanity and get stuck in a mental institution for a few years.Look at other cases in recent years. I understand he had to be insane to do this to his own child, but he deserves to be 6ft. under.

  • hollylama Jan 16, 2007


  • justbamom Jan 16, 2007

    I think that the important thing is that we remember that this terrible act of violence is not about us. It is about a Mother who lost her baby in a way that we cannot comprehend. It is human nature for some of us to want to see and know it all, but, this isn't about us at all. We should not be so selfish by looking beyond what some of us want to see to embrace this family with respect and privacy. Leave the pictures and the story alone WRAL!

  • highergame4me Jan 16, 2007

    I really don't understand why people are opposed to seeing the victim's picture. The picture just shows the little girl's angelic face.

  • anastasia Jan 16, 2007

    Please put the photo of the little girl back up. She was a beautiful child, a victim, and deserves to have a *face*. If anything, take down the photo of the monster who killed her in such an unspeakably brutal fashion. Katlin was a living, breathing, innocent little girl who deserves to be seen as what she was, a victim. As long as *victims* remain *faceless*, they can be swept under the carpet in the justice system, while all the *understanding* and sympathy goes to the perpetrator. *His* mental state, etc.

  • infinitiandbeyond Jan 16, 2007

    Please! Remove the video that contains the childs picture also, how inhumane can one company be..The man ( he is not a father) needs to be killed, if that had been my child, he would be dead by now., i would have brought him back from washington in my trunk. . You don't mess with Kids, especially your own..I mean WHAT could ever be bad enough for you to do that to anyone especially an innocent child... SICK!