Christine McFadden seemed to have it all — a great career, a beautiful home, and four terrific children.
But her world collapsed around her when she returned from her morning walk on March 26. The 44-year-old Merced, Calif., veterinarian found her ex-husband's vehicle parked in the driveway, and the body of her daughter in the hallway. She fled to a neighbor's house to call police.
"This is Christine McFadden. I think my ex-husband has killed my children," McFadden said in a frantic call to 911, made available to Good Morning America.
"Talk to me. What's going on?" the operator said.
"I don't know. I walk in the house. I think my daughter is dead in the hallway," McFadden said. "I left … My ex-husband is John Hogan. You need several police. He's an ex-cop. But send someone, if they're still alive."
All four of her children were slain by McFadden's ex-husband. First, Hogan, 49, killed her sons from a previous marriage, 15-year-old Stanley Willis and 14-year-old Stuart Willis. Both boys were both found shot to death in their beds. Their sister, 17-year-old Melanie Willis, struggled with Hogan in the hallway, but he killed her, too.
Hogan brought little Michelle Hogan, the only of the four who was his biological child, to the master bedroom. He shot her in the torso, and then killed himself.
A Message Left One Clue
Hogan left only one clue as to why he went on the killing rampage.
At 6:33 that morning the former Santa Clara sheriff's deputy left his best friend a disturbing voice-mail message.
"I'm bankrupt, morally, physically, emotionally, monetarily. My body's gone, my mind is gone," Hogan said in the message. "I have nothing left."
The message angers and mystifies McFadden, who says she included her ex-husband in the children's birthdays and holidays after their divorce the previous year.
Now she must mark those occasions without her children. But the distraught mother has found that support from people in her community has helped the grieving process.
Hours after the murders, hundreds of people gathered at the local church, and later held a candlelight vigil.
At the funeral, more than 2,000 mourners gathered to pay their respects to her children: Melanie, the scholar; Stanley, the football star; Stuart, the soccer phenomenon; and Michelle, who wanted to be a veterinarian, just like her mom.
Five Months Later
Five months after the tragedy, McFadden says she cries every day and takes heavy medication as she struggles through the grief. The question of why the tragedy happened haunts her every day.
McFadden said her ex-husband was never physically abusive to the kids or her. He would sometimes lose his temper over small things, flare-ups that were marked by Hogan yelling and screaming profanities, but not demonstrating physical violence.
"There was never, never any threat," McFadden said on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.
Hogan had been invited to Michelle's birthday party right before the murders, as he was invited to all the holidays, McFadden said.
All of the kids and their friends were there, and it was a beautiful day. Everyone else was happy, but Hogan sat in the corner by himself.
At the time, Hogan was not working regularly, had very little money, and was depressed. Meanwhile, McFadden had a successful and lucrative veterinary practice, owned an expensive home, and had custody of the four kids.