David Conley has been charged with three counts of capital murder after six children and two adults were found dead inside a northwest Harris County home. He is being held without bond and faced a judge Monday morning.
Conley said nothing and showed no emotion while in court.
Even though the crimes were horrific, prosecutors are still not sure about the death penalty.
“On the face of it, it seems like a no-brainer, but we take a lot into consideration. I just think it’s too early to say whether we will or not,” said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson.
Sources told KPRC2 that Conley did not appear in court Sunday afternoon because he told authorities he was suicidal. He was still on suicide watch at the Harris County Jail Monday.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office said the mass killing was discovered during a welfare check at a home in the 2100 block of Fallbrook at Veterans Memorial around 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
According to deputies, no one answered the door at the home and they were alerted that a man inside, identified as David Conley, had an outstanding warrant on charges of aggravated assault of a family member.
Deputies then called for the High Risk Operations Unit to make entry into the residence.
“The male had a history of family violence, and (with) no one answering the door, we felt that it required that,” said Deputy Thomas Gilliland of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies surrounded the house and while they were checking the windows, they saw what appeared to be a dead child on the floor.
Deputies entered the house and said Conley, 49, started shooting. They pulled back and the hostage negotiation team was called in.
After a couple of hours, Conley surrendered.
“One of our negotiators was able to have him come out of the house. He was taken into custody,” said Gilliland.
Once deputies went back into the home, they found the bodies of eight victims. They believe they are the bodies of six children and two adults.
Investigators said they were all shot to death and most of them were handcuffed. Their bodies were found throughout three bedrooms.
The victims have been identified as Dwayne Jackson, 50, Valerie Jackson, 40, and their six children Nathaniel, 13, Honesty, 11, Dwayne Jr., 15, Caleb, 9, Trinity, 7, and Jonah, 6.
Officials had initially reported five children and three adults were killed.
Homicide investigators said Conley had a prior relationship with Valerie Jackson.
Even though Conley was absent during a Sunday afternoon probable cause hearing, a prosecutor laid out some of the details of the case. A prosecutor told a judge Jackson had recently changed the locks on the house, but Conley found his way inside through an unlocked window.
“He then restrained, shot and killed eight people in the home,” prosecutor Celeste Byrom told the judge.
Conley has a lengthy criminal history. In Harris County, he’s been involved in 14 criminal cases, including several robbery charges and DWIs, dating as far back as 1979.
Most recently, he was charged with assault of a family member. last month after Valerie Jackson said he pushed her head against a refrigerator.
Conley was also charged with aggravated assault of a family member in April 2013 when Valerie Jackson told authorities that he had threatened her with a knife. That charge led to Jackson filing a protective order against Conley.
Officials with Children’s Protective Services told KPRC 2 the agency had been involved in the children’s lives in the past. A spokesperson for CPS, Estella Olguin, said at the time of their deaths the agency had no current investigation involving the family. Olguin said CPS’ Office of Child Safety started an internal review to determine exactly what happened with those prior cases and whether everything was handled properly.