Local News

Police: Fayetteville family's death a murder-suicide

Posted November 3, 2009 11:46 a.m. EST
Updated November 4, 2009 3:17 p.m. EST

— A Fayetteville man shot and killed his wife and two teenage children Monday night and then killed himself, police said Tuesday.

William "Billy" Maxwell Jr., 47, killed his family at their house, 314 West Park Drive, police said. The victims included his wife, Kathryn Maxwell, 43, daughter Connor Maxwell, 17, and son Cameron Maxwell, 15.

Police have not said what the possible motives were.

Family members went to the home Monday evening and found the four people dead, police spokeswoman Theresa Chance said. They called 911 around 8:30 p.m.

"The (in-laws) were able to look right through the front window and see there were deceased bodies," Chance said.

When officers arrived, they looked through the window and saw Kathryn Maxwell's body, Chance said. They entered the house and found Billy Maxwell Jr. and his son. They found his daughter's body further inside the home.

Police stayed at the scene overnight and removed the bodies around 4:30 a.m.

Billy Maxwell Jr. applied for a concealed weapon permit in December 2007 and was granted one in January 2008, according to authorities. The permit was still active at the time of Monday's murder-suicide.

The family attended Snyder Memorial Baptist Church. Friends said the siblings were involved in the youth ministry and the youth choir, and their father was a deacon.

Connor, a senior, and Cameron, a freshman, were students at Village Christian Academy. Connor was a Girl Scout working on her gold award, the highest award, and was a varsity cheerleader at the school. 

"Very quiet, very studious student,” William Warren, the principal at Village Christian Academy, said of Connor.

Cameron was on the junior varsity basketball team.

“Cameron was the freshman, and he was always full of life,” Warren said.

Billy Maxwell Jr. was a basketball coach at the school.

"Talking with him just a few weeks ago, he was excited about the upcoming season, and was just ready to get started working with the athletes on his team,” Warren said.

The school held a special service to honor the siblings Tuesday, and counselors were available.

"Things happen in our society that we have no answer for," said Lena Scott, interim administrator of Village Christian Academy.

"It's a very sad day, and it's a very hard to explain day, but the Lord takes care of us, and that's what we're praying for," said Lou Nelon, the church administrator. "We've got a lot of good folks helping us get through that."

Mourners crowd church to remember victims

Snyder Memorial Baptist Church held a candlelight prayer service for the family Tuesday evening in the sanctuary.

"We feel helpless to change the events of the last 24 hours,” said John Cook, pastor of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church.

Hundreds of people packed the church to remember the family through tearful tributes.

"I loved them so much and I cannot wait until I see them again," teenager Libby Rose said.

"She was beautiful,” Alexa Copenhaver said of her friend, Connor.

Upon entering the church, youth minister Craig Morrison asked people to write down memories of the Maxwells.

“The way we can honor the Maxwell family tonight and today is by sharing our stories,” he said.

Morrison said the stories will be shared with relatives of the Maxwells.

During a candlelight vigil after the service, people hugged one another and tried to make sense of the deaths.

“We do not understand what we have lived through, and we do not know what we are living through at this moment,” said Robbie Byrd, Snyder Memorial Baptist Church's minister of counseling.

Funeral arrangements for the family were still being made late Tuesday.