Ronald Gene Simmons Sr.
Ronald Gene Simmons, Sr., (July 15th, 1940 – June 25th, 1990) was an American spree killer, who murdered 16 people over a week-long period in Arkansas in 1987. A retired military serviceman, Simmons murdered fourteen members of his family, including a daughter he had sexually abused and the child he had fathered with her, a former co-worker, and a stranger, and wounded four others. The event took place over the week of Christmas that year, and has since infamously become known as "The Last Christmas".
Simmons was sentenced to death sixteen times, and after refusing to appeal his sentence, was executed by Arkansas in 1990.
He is also known as the "Hillbilly from Hell".
Ronald Gene Simmons was born on July 15, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois, to Loretta and William Simmons. On January 31, 1943, William Simmons died of a stroke and within a year, Simmons's mother had remarried, this time to William D. Griffen, a civil engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 1946, the corps moved Griffen to Little Rock, Arkansas, the first of several transfers that would take the family across central Arkansas over the next decade.
On September 15, 1957, Simmons dropped out of school and joined the U.S. Navy, and was first stationed at Naval Station Bremerton in Washington, where he met Bersabe Rebecca "Becky" Ulibarri, whom he married in New Mexico on July 9, 1960. Over the next 18 years, the couple had seven children. In 1963, Simmons left the navy, and approximately two years later joined the U.S. Air Force. During his 20-year military career, Simmons was awarded a Bronze Star Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross for his service as an airman, and the Airforce Ribbon for Excellent Marksmanship. Simmons retired from the air force and military service on November 30, 1979, with the rank of master sergeant.
On April 3, 1981, Simmons was being investigated by the Cloudcroft, New Mexico, Department of Human Services for allegations that he had fathered a child with his 17-year-old daughter, Sheila, whom he had been sexually abusing. Fearing arrest, Simmons fled New Mexico with his family, first to Ward, Arkansas in late 1981, and then to near Dover, Arkansas in the summer of 1983. The family took up residence on a 13-acre tract of land 6.5 miles north of Dover that would become known as Mockingbird Hill. The residence was constructed of two older-model mobile homes joined to form one large home, neither of which had a telephone nor indoor plumbing, and was surrounded by a makeshift privacy fence which was as high as 10-feet tall in some places.
Simmons worked a string of low-paying jobs in the nearby town of Russellville, Arkansas. He quit a position as an accounts receivable clerk at Woodline Motor Freight after numerous reports of inappropriate sexual advances and went to work at a Sinclair Mini Mart for approximately a year and a half before quitting on December 18, 1987.
Shortly before Christmas 1987, Simmons decided to kill all the members of his family. On the morning of December 22, he first killed his wife Rebecca and eldest son Gene by shooting them with a .22-caliber pistol, and then killed his three-year-old granddaughter Barbara by strangulation. Simmons dumped the bodies in a cesspit he had made his children dig. Simmons then waited for his other children to return to the house, and after their arrival he told them he had presents for them, but wanted to give them one at a time. He first killed his daughter, 17-year-old Loretta, whom Simmons strangled and held under the water in a rain barrel. The three other children, Eddy, Marianne, and Becky, were then killed in the same way.
Around mid-day on December 26, the remaining members of the family arrived for their Christmas visit. The first to be killed was Simmons' son Billy and his wife Renata, who were both shot dead. He then strangled and drowned their 20-month-old son, Trae. Simmons shot and killed his oldest daughter, Sheila (whom he had sexually abused), and her husband, Dennis McNulty. Simmons then strangled his child by Sheila, seven-year-old Sylvia Gail, and finally his 21-month-old grandson Michael. Simmons laid the bodies of his whole family in neat rows in the lounge. All the corpses were covered with coats except that of Sheila, who was covered by Rebecca Simmons' best tablecloth. The bodies of the two grandsons were wrapped in plastic sheeting and left in abandoned cars at the end of the lane. After the murders, Simmons went for a drink in a local bar, then returned to the house and, apparently oblivious to the corpses lined up around him, spent the rest of the evening and the following day drinking beer and watching television.
On the morning of December 28, Simmons drove into Russellville, walked into a law office, and killed the receptionist, a young woman named Kathy Kendrick. Simmons had previously been infatuated with Kendrick, but she had rejected him. He next went to an oil company office, where he shot dead a man named J.D. Chaffin and wounded the owner, Rusty Taylor, and then drove on to a convenience store where he had previously worked, shooting and wounding two more people. Afterwards, Simmons went to the office of the Woodline Motor Freight Company, where he shot and wounded a woman. Simmons then simply sat in the office and chatted with one of the secretaries while waiting for the police. When they arrived, Simmons handed over his gun and surrendered without any resistance.