SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - The parents of the father who was slain in his Spring home along with his wife and four of their children spoke with Local 2 about the victims and their accused killer.
Thomas and Joyce Stay, Stephen Stay's parents, live in California. They said they've known the family's killer, Ronald Haskell, since he was a little boy. They knew that Ron and his wife Melanie were having problems, but nothing like what happened on Wednesday.
Joyce Stay will treasure a calendar of family photos. She knew something was wrong Wednesday night when she started getting voicemails.
"I went to my answering machine and I thought what's that about. I called my son, he didn't answer. I called (his wife) Katie and she didn't answer. Called Cassidy and there was no answer. I texted my son and called back again and there was still no answer," Joyce said.
She later learned everyone in the family -- their son, Stephen; his wife, Katie; and their four other children -- was dead, except Cassidy. Ronald Lee Haskell is accused in the killings.
"Cassidy, she's the hero," said Tom Stay.
He told Local 2 how his granddaughter played dead after getting shot.
"She put her hands over her head and she was shot at the side of her head. She had nine stitches on the side there," said Tom.
Investigators say she put up her hand when she was shot, losing a finger, but deflecting the bullet just enough to change its trajectory and save her life. She then was able to give deputies on the scene valuable information about Haskell which allowed them to track him down and eventually capture him.
They talked to their granddaughter on the phone from her hospital bed.
"I said, 'We love you so much,' and she said, 'Mom, I mean grandma, Mom and Dad are in a better place,'" said Joyce.
The Stays have known Ronald Haskell and his family well, since both Haskell and their son Stephen were young.
"The one who did the shooting, his older brother was one of Stephen's best friends," said Tom.
That's why they want to reach out to Haskell's family.
"I will be placing a call to Karla (Haskell's mom) to give my sympathies and I am sorry about what's going to happen to Ronnie," said Joyce.
The Stays said they are still in shock about what happened to Stephen.
Tom held back tears as he talked about his son.
"Stephen was a special boy. He was 10 years young than the other boys and so he was with us living out on the farm. He worked with me a lot. " he said.
He said, "Stephen was someone we could trust, responsible, kind, loved animals. I mean he had dogs, chickens and cats and was very good in the garden."
Stay's mother said, "Katie and Stephen loved each other totally. Just wonderful, so committed to one another all on the same page at the same time, doing what they were supposed to do."
Joyce and Tom Stay were flying Friday night from California to Houston to be with Cassidy.
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