Local News

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

Posted January 15, 2007 5:59 p.m. EST
Updated January 16, 2007 11:23 a.m. EST

— 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.