Kentucky man, enraged over how his wife cooked eggs, kills 5 before shooting himself
Jackson, Ky. - For months, Stanley Neace had shown increasing hostility to his neighbors in rural eastern Kentucky, to the point his landlord started eviction proceedings. Then he snapped over how his wife cooked his eggs, and killed her and four others with a shotgun before shooting himself.
Neighbors in the roadside mobile home park said Neace stormed across several lawns in his pajamas on Saturday and fired dozens of shots from a 12-gauge pump shotgun. When the rampage ended, Neace and his wife lay dead, along with the gunman's stepdaughter and three neighbors.
Trooper Jody Sims of the Kentucky State Police said Neace, 47, killed the five people in two mobile homes, then went to his home and turned the gun on himself. Investigators were still working Sunday to piece together exactly what happened during the rampage, Breathitt County Sheriff Ray Clemons said.
The state medical examiner's office in Frankfort was expected to perform autopsies on all six who died.
Neighbor Steve Smith saw the shootings from the window of his mobile home. When he walked outside, Smith said Neace took a shot at him but missed.
"He chased his wife around that Jeep shooting at her," Smith said, pointing to a SUV parked outside his mobile home. "I heard her screaming and running."
Sims said that when state police arrived about an hour after the gunfire began, they heard a single gunshot and found Neace's body on the porch in the unincorporated community of Mount Carmel in Breathitt County, which is home to about 16,000 people.
Sherri Anne Robinson, a relative of two of the victims, said witnesses to the shootings told her that Neace became enraged when his wife did not cook his breakfast to his liking.
"She tried to run to tell my family and he shot them too because they found out about it," she said.
The victims were identified as the gunman's wife, Sandra Neace, 54; her daughter Sandra R. Strong, 28; and neighbors Dennis Turner, 31; Teresa Fugate, 30; and Tammy Kilborn, 40.
The names of the victims were provided by Kentucky State Police, while Robinson described their relationships. Fugate is Robinson's sister, Turner is her cousin and Kilborn was a witness who happened to step onto the porch of another mobile home when she heard the commotion.
Robinson said Fugate was shot in front of her 7-year-old daughter.
"Her daughter said, 'Please, please don't shoot me,' and he said, 'All right, you can leave,' and she ran out," said Robinson, who spoke to her niece after the shootings. "She went and told her neighbors, and the neighbors called the law."
Robinson said Neace had never appeared threatening to her, but that he was known to have a violent history. Sims could not confirm that Neace had a criminal record.
County prosecutor Brendon Miller said his dealings with Neace came on nonviolent issues involving child support and he was in Miller's office a month ago regarding a traffic ticket.
Sims said when police arrived at the mobile home park about 90 miles southeast of Lexington, they heard a single gunshot, then found Neace's body on his porch. They found victims in two other mobile homes.
"Over eggs?" Robinson said. "I thought that was crazy. Really. I mean just because his eggs weren't hot?"
Landlord Ray Rastegar said Neace received monthly disability checks from the Social Security Administration, though he didn't know what his disability was. Rastegar said he had begun the process of evicting Neace, who had lived in the trailer park for about seven years, because he had become more hostile toward neighbors in recent months.
"He was unpredictable," Rastegar said. "Little things would set him off."
Neighbor Robert Collins, 50, said it wasn't the first time he's heard gunshots in the area. Neace often walked down to a nearby river to take practice shots, he said.
Smith said Neace ended up mumbling to himself on the porch of his trailer, pointed the shotgun at his head and pulled the trigger.
"He's been trouble ever since he's been here," Smith said. "He's always been trouble."