Funeral held for 6 slain family members in Texas - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Funeral held for 6 slain family members in Texas

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer). A family portrait of the Stephen and Katie Stay family is on display before visitation at Klein Funeral Home Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer). A family portrait of the Stephen and Katie Stay family is on display before visitation at Klein Funeral Home Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Houston.
(AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer, Pool). Ronald Lee Haskell is escorted by deputies for a hearing on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer, Pool). Ronald Lee Haskell is escorted by deputies for a hearing on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Houston.
  • NationalMore>>

  • Detroit police: Sleeping boy, 8, shot and killed

    Detroit police: Sleeping boy, 8, shot and killed

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:12 PM EDT2014-07-31 01:12:20 GMT
    An 8-year-old boy has died after a bullet fired from outside went through a home's wall and hit the child in bed early Wednesday, Detroit police said.
    Sporadic gunfire isn't an unusual sound in the Brewster Homes public housing complex in Detroit, but booming noises that shook Tenesha Higgins early Wednesday morning were way too close.
  • Pipe break that flooded UCLA dumps 20M gallons

    Pipe break that flooded UCLA dumps 20M gallons

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:41 PM EDT2014-07-31 00:41:23 GMT
    The quiet summer campus of UCLA found itself suddenly steeped in water and chaos after a major water pipe burst and spewed some eight million gallons, stranding people in parking garages and flooding the...
    The rupture of a nearly century-old water main that ripped a 15-foot hole through Sunset Boulevard and turned a swath of the University of California, Los Angeles into a mucky mess points to the risks and expense many...
  • Cinema verite documentarian Robert Drew dies at 90

    Cinema verite documentarian Robert Drew dies at 90

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:40 PM EDT2014-07-31 00:40:40 GMT
    Documentary pioneer Robert Drew has died in Connecticut at age 90.
    By HILLEL ITALIE AP National Writer Filmmaker Robert Drew, a pioneer of the modern documentary who in "Primary" and other movies mastered the intimate, spontaneous style known as cinema verite and...
By MICHAEL GRACZYK
Associated Press

SPRING, Texas (AP) - Six white caskets containing the bodies of a suburban Houston couple and four of their five children were wheeled into a church Wednesday for funeral services not far from where the family was gunned down at their home a week ago.

Stephen Stay, 39, his wife Katie, 34, and their four youngest children were being buried in a private ceremony after services at their Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"It's a difficult reason that's brought us together today," said Bishop Scott McBride, who presided over the 90-minute funeral service. "It wouldn't be right if I tell you I don't ache in my heart and we don't feel pain and feel the loss."

The couple's 15-year-old daughter, Cassidy, who survived a gunshot wound by playing dead, sat in the front row with grandparents and other relatives, just a few feet from the caskets topped with sprays of flowers. Poster-size photos of her smiling parents and siblings looked back at her and more than 1,000 people attending the service.

Katie Stay's father, Roger Lyon, said in an invocation that the service was a celebration of Stephen and Katie's family and he prayed that "some good come out of this seemingly senseless tragedy."

"We are thankful for all the things they did for us," he said.

In a description of his loved ones' lives, Randy Cousins, an uncle, said the extended family was grateful for support from "friends, family and people we have never met."

"If there's one thing we've learned as a family, it is that the world is a good place," Cousins said. "If you watch the news all the time, you might not remember that."

"Families are forever," Jeff Stay, one of Stephen's brothers, said, his voice halting. "We know we will meet them again."

Cassidy Stay called police and identified her aunt's ex-husband, Ronald Lee Haskell, 33, as the gunman. Haskell had been divorced from Katie Stay's sister and records show he had a history of domestic violence. The family was shot when they refused to divulge his ex-wife's whereabouts, authorities said.

Haskell was arrested a few hours later after a police standoff and now faces multiple charges of capital murder.

"I don't know you ever prepare yourself for something like this because you don't expect this," Don Guthrie, 57, a family friend and fellow church member, said before the funeral. "This is a shock. This is incomprehensible."

Friends were wrestling with the loss of what one called an "anchor family," whose home was the place where neighborhood kids gravitated.

"They were the people, despite the chaos of life, who were always looking for happiness and looking to do something better," said Tom Mixon, 47, a father of three and scoutmaster to one of the Stay boys. "Katie Stay was adamant about teaching her kids to do better every day and to treat people better every day. And because of that we all wanted to be better and wanted to be around them.

"It's hard to wrap my head around it, when somebody that's so ensconced in your life like that is suddenly gone."

Investigators said Haskell tied up the family and put them face-down on the floor before shooting each in the back of the head. Besides Stephen and Katie Stay, also killed were Bryan, 13, Emily, 9, Rebecca, 6, and Zach, 4.

"It doesn't seem right that we have to bury our children first, our grandchildren," said Bradley Foster, one of the Mormon church's senior leaders who came from Utah to participate in the service.

Haskell's lawyers have said they will focus on his mental condition and whether he was legally responsible for the carnage. Prosecutors haven't yet decided whether to seek the death penalty against him.

Friends have said Katie Stay went to Utah last year to help her sister, Melanie, escape her relationship with Haskell. That couple was married in 2002 in California, separated last year and divorced in February.

Stephen Stay was the real estate broker for Moriah Davis, 32, who met the Stay family through their church and had almost daily contact with Katie Stay.

"You cry and talk about how wonderful they were and you move on a little bit at a time," the mother of three boys said.

Davis said her 5-year-old has been talking about 4-year-old Zach Stay and asked her: "Mom, do you think that Zach will like heaven?"

Mixon and Guthrie said their faith had prepared them to forgive Haskell.

"I'm not happy about it, but I'm not going to hold a grudge," said Guthrie.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • InternationalMore>>

  • Obama takes tougher line against Gaza casualties

    Obama takes tougher line against Gaza casualties

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:14 PM EDT2014-07-31 01:14:35 GMT
    The United States is condemning Israel's shelling of a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip that was sheltering displaced Palestinians.
    The Obama administration condemned the deadly shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza Wednesday, using tough, yet carefully worded language that reflects growing White House irritation with Israel and the mounting...
  • Argentina heads into default as debt talks fail

    Argentina heads into default as debt talks fail

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:57 PM EDT2014-07-31 00:57:12 GMT
    Argentina's economy minister led a last-gasp effort Wednesday to strike a deal with U.S. creditors that would prevent the South American country from slipping into default.
    Talks aimed at averting Argentina's second default in 13 years ended with bitter recriminations Wednesday as the South American country said it could not accept a deal with U.S. hedge fund creditors it dismisses as...
  • Peace Corps evacuates over Ebola as 2 isolated

    Peace Corps evacuates over Ebola as 2 isolated

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:38 PM EDT2014-07-31 00:38:23 GMT
    Liberia's president late Wednesday ordered the nation's schools to shut down and most civil servants to stay home as an Ebola outbreak that already has killed more than 130 people in the country deepened.
    The largest recorded Ebola outbreak in history has led the U.S. Peace Corps to evacuate hundreds of volunteers from three affected West African countries, and a State Department official on Wednesday said two volunteers...