RUSSELLVILLE, ARK., DEC. 29 -- Investigators found nine slain relatives of R. Gene Simmons Sr. hidden near his remote farmhouse today, bringing to 16 the number of deaths linked to the retired Air Force sergeant since he allegedly went on a shooting rampage Monday through downtown businesses here, officials said.
Authorities said they found seven bodies buried in a hastily dug grave about four feet deep covered with dirt and sheet metal near Simmons' house about 15 miles north of this western Arkansas city. In the trunks of two abandoned vehicles nearby, Pope County sheriff's investigator, Lt. Jay Winters, said he found two children covered in plastic bags.
The victims included Simmons' wife, four of their children, and four grandchildren, Winters said.
On Monday, investigators found the bodies of two more of Simmons' children, their spouses and another grandchild inside Simmons' house, which was filled with unopened Christmas presents.
Simmons was arrested Monday after allegedly going on a 45-minute shooting spree through four downtown businesses, killing two former coworkers and injuring four others. Killed were Kathy Kendrick, a receptionist at a law firm who authorities said had spurned his romantic advances, and J.D. Chaffin, an oil-distributorship employe.
Kendrick was shot several times in the head, officials said, and Chaffin was shot at least once in the head.
Simmons sat silently in his jail cell tonight, sullenly staring at the wall and refusing to speak to investigators or even to his two court-appointed attorneys.
Although Simmons has refused to utter a word during questioning, officials said, he showed a brief hint of emotion when questioned about his family, prompting investigators to return to the farmhouse, where they discovered the shallow grave today containing seven bodies.
"We asked him about his family, and his eyes got red and started to well up and his lip started to quiver," Winters said. "But he wouldn't tell us a thing."
Winters said that the seven family members found buried outside and in the trunks of the cars may have been dead since last Wednesday or Thursday. The five family members found inside the house Monday appeared to have been slain on Saturday.
The adults inside the house had been shot at least once each, authorities said, and a girl found inside appeared to have been suffocated.
Simmons, about 5 feet 11 inches tall with a scruffy beard and thinning gray hair, was ordered held without bond today by Pope County Circuit Court Judge John D. Patterson, and authorities said Simmons probably would undergo a 30-day psychiatric examination.
Authorities tentatively identified the victims found in the grave as Becky Simmons, 46, Simmons' wife; sons Ronald Gene Simmons Jr., 27, and Eddie Simmons, 14; daughters Loretta, 17, Marianne, 11, and Rebecca, 8; and Ronald Jr.'s daughter, Barbara, 3.
The children found in the trunks of cars were tentatively identified as grandsons Michael McNulty, 21 months, and William Simmons Jr., 20 months.
Those found dead in the house Monday were identified as son William H. Simmons, 23, and Renada Simmons, his wife; daughter Shelia McNulty, 24, and her husband, Dennis, 23, and Sylvia McNulty, 6, their daughter.
Russellville Police Chief Herb Johnston charged Simmons with two counts of capital murder and four counts of attempted capital murder stemming from Monday's downtown rampage. No charges have been filed in connection with the deaths at his house.
Police discovered the scope of the killings after a man armed with two .22-cal. handguns walked into the Peel & Eddy law office in Russellville Monday morning and killed Kendrick, 24, with four shots, United Press International reported earlier today.
"I didn't hear him speak a word -- just the sound of five or six shots," partner David L. Eddy told UPI. "He apparently stood there and then walked off."
Minutes later, at Taylor Oil Co. about a mile away, he allegedly shot dead Chaffin, 33, and wounded Rusty Taylor, 38, the company's owner.
"The door flew open, and the man shot him just point-blank in the face," a woman who works there told UPI. "I screamed. Then he turned and shot at me and it went just past my hair. I felt the heat from it. I just dove, and he took off."
At Sinclair Mini-Mart, he wounded manager David Salyer, 38, and employe Roberta Woolery, 46. At Woodline Motor Freight, he shot office manager Joyce Butts before taking a hostage and barricaded himself inside. Butts, 35, remained in critical condition today with a gunshot wound in the chest.
The gunman turned over the hostage when Police Chief Johnston walked up to the office and asked him to surrender. "He opened the door and just handed me the guns. That was it," Johnston told UPI. "He was very calm."
Winters said Simmons had worked at the Sinclair Mini-Mart, which is owned by Taylor Oil, until he quit Dec. 18, complaining of low wages. He had left Woodline Motor Freight about a year ago. Woodline president Robert Wood told Associated Press that Kendrick, an employe there during Simmons' tenure, had rejected Simmons' "amorous affection."
Winters said when police arrived at Simmons' house Monday they found bodies inside clothed in overcoats indicating that they had been killed soon after arriving.
Meanwhile, nine other family members had been reported missing, and sheriff's deputies and Russellville police today began dragging a pond near the house. The dragging operation was halted when a deputy noticed freshly dug earth and the mass grave was uncovered.
Bill Wren, who lived about 200 yards from Simmons' house, told AP that the children appeared to be "sweet little kids" but that family members kept to themselves. Wren said Simmons "was kind of strange. He was antisocial."
William (Dub) Brown, who operates a grocery near the house, told AP of Simmons, "He didn't have much to say. He was unfriendly."