Harris County Sheriff's Office Releases Timeline of Response to Saturday's Mass Murder

On Thursday, the Harris County Sheriff's Office released a detailed timeline of their response Saturday to the home on Falling Oaks Road where David Conley allegedly murdered Dwayne and Valerie Jackson and six children, one of whom was Conley's. 

The timeline was released amid questions about what more CPS and law enforcement could have done to prevent the tragedy. State Child Protective Services workers had been investigating the children's case starting in 2011, and in 2013 the children were removed from the home after one of them, Caleb, was found wandering alone at night by himself for the second time, the Houston Chronicle reports. But Judge Glenn Devlin ordered the children be returned to the home in October 2013. In a written statement sent to reporters yesterday, Devlin defended his decision to deny a second request this past spring that the children be removed from the home, citing "insufficient evidence" by CPS.

According to the timeline HCSO provided Thursday, deputies were sent out to the Jackson home for welfare checks no less four times . They finally forced entry when they saw a dead body in through the window.  

According to HCSO's timeline, the first call that came in on Saturday requesting a police welfare check was at 10:42 a.m. Deputies arrived swiftly, but an hour later they reported no response from the home. Channel 13 reports that deputies knocked twice, and grew suspicious after hearing a deadbolt lock. Still, deputies left the scene around noon.

Another 911 call triggered another check at 4:30 p.m. Again, there was no response, so deputies left the scene. Deputies returned to the house for a third welfare check less than an hour later.

The calls to police were coming from concerned family, Channel 13 reports, after Valerie sent alarming text and Facebook messages to family members. The Houston Chronicle reported that one call was from Valerie's brother Earl Yanske, who was in Montana at the time. Others were from Valerie's mother, calling from Minnesota. And yet another—the last of the calls—was from Valerie's sister in Chicago.

That last call came an hour and a half after deputies left the house a third time, labeling it “secure.” It took more than an hour for deputies to return to the home. Some two hours after they arrived, deputies circling the perimeter of the house spotted a dead body from a window. HCSO says deputies at that point attempted to force entry into the home, but Conley shot at them, triggering an hour-long standoff with police. 

It's not clear from HCSO's timeline whether deputies ever attempted to obtain a search warrant to enter the home. Conley already had an active arrest warrant on an assault charge; court records show he'd been charged with slamming Valerie's head into a fridge just last month.

Deputies ultimately arrested Conley 13 hours after Valerie's family first called 911 concerned about her safety. 
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Meagan Flynn is a staff writer at the Houston Press who, despite covering criminal justice and other political squabbles in Harris County, drinks only one small cup of coffee per day.
Contact: Meagan Flynn