Five children found dead after a West Virginia house fire late last month were shot dead by their mother, Oreanna Myers, who then took her own life after drawing a red line on her face and writing a confession, in which she lamented she was not strong enough to defeat her ‘demons.’
Greenbrier County Sheriff Bruce Sloan revealed details of the shootings and fire on December 8 at a news conference on Thursday.
He said Oreanna Myers, 25, shot her three sons and two stepchildren from her husband’s previous marriage at their home near Williamsburg. The children were identified as Shaun Dawson Bumgarner, 7, Riley James Bumgarner, 6, Kian Myers, 4, Aarikyle Nova Myers, 3 and Haiken Jirachi Myers, age 1.
According to Sloan, Myers was upset that her husband had been staying with relatives during the work week for logistical reasons, instead of coming home to her.
The children’s bodies with shotgun wounds to the head were found inside the home while Myers was found outside near a picnic table, Sloan said. The shotgun used in the murders was discovered next to the mother.
Sloan described how Myers was found, revealing that she was wearing a coat with a hood, and had a red line drawn across her face from ear to ear, reported MetroNews.com.
The mysterious line was seen on surveillance video when Myers had gone to pick up two of her sons from the bus stop at the end of the school day. One of the boys asked her if it was blood on her face, but Myers replied she had just drawn the line.
An hour later, emergency dispatch got a 911 call about a house fire on Flynns Creek Road. Where firefighters arrived on the scene just before 4pm, they found the residence engulfed in flames.
The five-bedroom, one-bath house was built in 1888 and had an estimated price of $126,000.
About 40 minutes later, Myers’ body was found outdoors. Four of the children were found dead inside the house that same day, but the fifth child’s body was only recovered from the debris four days later, reported WVNS-TV.
Myers’ husband, Brian Bumgarner, stayed with relatives instead of at home during the work week due to transportation issues, Sloan said. Text messages between Myers and her husband showed that his absence during the week had been ‘a tremendous source of contention’ between them.
According to the sheriff, based on Myers’ text messages, the woman grew more desperate after Bumgarner left the house on December 6 after dropping off groceries for his family.
‘You’ll have nothing to come back to but to corpse [sic]. No one cares why should I?” Myers texted her husband. ‘Money will come and go, once I go there’s no replacing me. I beg and cry for help but never get it. It’s my mental health that needs tending to–help me– I do not care anymore.’
Sloan said he was unaware of whether the woman was under treatment for any diagnosed mental illness at the time of the deaths. But in several notes she left before carrying out the murder-suicide and setting fire to her family home, Myers complained about the lack of treatment for mental illness, according to the sheriff.
‘This is no one’s fault but my own. My demons won over me. Sorry, I wasn’t strong enough,’ she wrote.
Myers texted her husband the day of the shootings saying she left something for him in their vehicle. A letter addressed to him was found inside with a bloody fingerprint next to her initials, Sloan said.
‘I’m so sorry Brian,’ she wrote to her husband. ‘I was not strong enough for you or this family. My head is so (expletive). I’m sorry for my evil crime. I was not strong enough to fight these demons, Snap. Crunch, Boom. So depressed. Heart numb. Soul completely shattered. I am sorry I failed you. I am sorry I failed our handsome boys. I am so sorry I was not strong enough. OAM.’
The sheriff said the woman also placed three notes inside a plastic bag and taped them to a side-view mirror on the family vehicle, including phone numbers to reach relatives, a confession, and a will.
‘I had shot all of the boys in the head. I had set house on fire. I had shot myself in the head. I’m sorry,’ she wrote in her confession. ‘Mental health is serious. I hope one day someone will help others like me. Mental health is not to joke about or taken lightly. When someone begs, pleads, cries out for help, please help them. You just might save a life or more lives. Thank you, OAM.’
Also recovered from the vehicle were a glass jar with a crystal and a cloth decorated with a spiral symbol.
According to a joint obituary for four of the children, Haiken, Kian, and Arikyle were Myers’ biological sons, while Shaun and Riley were her husband’s children from his marriage to Raven Frisbie.
Following Thursday’s press conference detailing the investigation into the murder-suicide, Frisbie wrote on her Facebook page: ‘She murdered my babies, and now everyone knows it. I’ve been more than patient waiting for this day and now that it’s here there is nothing that is going to keep me quiet. I fought for them while they were alive and I will continue to do so after.’
According to the obituary for the children, Shaun was a second-grade student at Frankford Elementary and wanted to be an astronaut. Riley was in kindergarten and loved sports. He was also interested in music and was learning to play the piano and the ukulele.
‘Aarikyle loved painting, being a kid, and was sneaky,’ the obituary read. ‘He loved Ninja Turtles and superheroes. Haiken being the youngest was spoiled by all and loved driving his toy cars.’