May 15, 2012 -- A Florida mom went on a murderous rampage, killing her four children early today before turning the gun on herself.
The murders happened around 4:30 a.m. in Port St. John, Fla. According to Lt. Tod Goodyear of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office identified the mother as Tonya Thomas, 33.
The children were identified as Joel Johnson, 12, Jazzlyn Johnson, 13, Jaxs Johnson, 15, and Pebbles Johnson, 17.
"This is a little bit different because they were older kids," Goodyear said. "To kill all four, I can't remember the last time a mom killed this many of her children."
The shootings are the worst homicides to take place in Brevard County since 1987.
Goodyear says Thomas sent a text message around 3 a.m. to a male coworker that Goodyear said, "Tell my mom what happened, I want to be cremated with my children."
The text is an indication that it was premeditated, Goodyear said. "A bad part of the investigation is that we may not get the why. Unless she left a note somewhere or told somebody, she may have taken it to the grave."
According to Goodyear, a neighbor heard gun shots. Minutes later two of the children arrived on his doorstep. One of the boys, police believe it was Joel, was covered in blood and told the neighbor his mom had shot them. The oldest child, Pebbles, could be seen walking back towards the family home, Goodyear said.
The children's mother came outside and lured the kids back into the house.
"She was very calm, called them in," Goodyear said. "She didn't seem to be stressed or mad, just stepped out. She walked out and said 'come home.'"
The neighbors say that they called out to the children, begging them not to go back to the house. That was the last time they saw the children.
The neighbors called police immediately who heard gunshots upon arrival.
"We set up a perimeter, found the oldest girl lying in the yard and took her out to ambulance," Goodyear said.
EMTs pronounced Pebbles dead in the ambulance and a SWAT team was called for further investigation. Police say they heard another gun shot. Officers found the other three kids and Thomas all dead in the back of the house.
Goodyear says the father of the family lives in Titusville, Fla., and hadn't been home in a few months.
The family has a history of domestic violence.
In April, Jaxs threw a bicycle through a window in the house and threatened Thomas, according to a police report.
That next day, when she woke him up for school, he kicked and punched her repeatedly, the report said. She pushed back and they began to scuffle.
Police were called later that day and police say neighbors often complained of hearing shouts and yells emanating from the house.
"It's sad, even if they were troublemakers. It's very distressing," Goodyear said. "As a parent, I could never fathom doing this to my kids."