“The whole thing is confusing,” said Rick Moeckel, whose 39-year-old daughter Kate Kasten, 10-year-old grandson Jonathan Kasten, 8-year-old granddaughter Zoe Kasten and 61-year-old ex-wife Jane Moeckel were all killed Friday.
The suspect, Richard Darren Emery, was Kate Kasten’s live-in boyfriend, who Rick Moeckel described as “a nice guy.”
“He and Kate, when they were together, always had big smiles on their faces,” Rick Moeckel said of the suspect, who went by his middle name, Darren.
Emery lived with Kate Kasten and her two children, whose father Kory died about two years ago after a years-long battle with cancer. Jane Moeckel -- Kate Kasten’s mother and Rick Moeckel’s ex-wife -- was staying with Emery and Kasten temporarily as she recovered from knee surgery.
Rick Moeckel said that the shooting has “sunk in,” and he believes that Emery is the one responsible, but he still has questions about what prompted the murders, especially after seeing Emery’s booking photo.
“The look on his face is not the Darren that I knew. That picture looked to be a picture of a person with no soul. An angry, mean person,” he said.
That comes in contrast to the man he knew, and who he saw most recently at a family holiday dinner on Dec. 23.
“He was a happy guy. He was deep frying a turkey,” Rick Moeckel said of Emery.
Emery, 46, appeared briefly in court Monday, noting that he does not currently have an attorney and that he understands the 15 charges against him -- including four counts of first degree murder, seven counts of armed criminal action, three counts of first degree assault, and one count of attempted robbery.
Emery was arrested after avoiding police for several hours -- attempting to steal a woman’s car and attacking her -- before being apprehended at a convenience store.
Rick Moeckel said that his daughter and Emery had been dating for about a year and a half, and he had no reason to suspect any history of domestic violence.
He also said that his ex-wife never mentioned suspicions of any violence in the relationship either.
“Their grandmother was around a lot, she did a lot of babysitting, she never said anything that something was out of the ordinary,” Rick Moeckel said.
“[Jane Moeckel] was a force to be dealt with, and Kate was probably her mother on steroids, just a strong-willed person, and if you crossed her, you were in trouble,” he said.
The investigation into the case is ongoing, and while the motive remains a mystery, Rick Moeckel said that the presence of guns in the home is not surprising as he said that they were all comfortable with weapons.
“They all shot,” Rick Moeckel said of his daughter’s family. “Last Christmas, they gave [Jonathan Kasten, the 10-year-old victim] a rifle and they would go target practicing, so guns were not uncommon.”
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the next hearing is set for Jan. 8, and the subsequent trial is still a ways off, but Rick Moeckel said that he hopes Emery faces the death penalty.
When asked what he would say to Emery if given the chance, Rick Moeckel said, “The first question you’d have is, why? Why would you do this? Nobody shoots kids. You don’t shoot kids.”
“I would just tell him that you took my life away,” he said. “It’s beyond belief.”