Loved. Missed. Remembered: Sand Springs’ COVID losses aren’t statistics. They’re friends, neighbors and relatives πŸ’₯πŸ‘©πŸ‘©πŸ’₯

One of the hardest stories I likely will ever cover unfolded 11 days after I became the Sand Springs Leader’s only reporter. A resident of the city, Phillip Ross, fatally stabbed his two daughters and their mother before taking his own life.

I introduced myself to the police chief at the murder scene. Nothing like jumping into the deep end. But I knew how to cover the story. After spending more than 20 years as an editor in the Tulsa World newsroom, I had seen reporters do these stories well – and not so well.

I went to the police press conference and covered the vigil, as well. I wrote about the victims – Anastacia β€œStaci” Lynn Smith, 41; River Gale Ross, 4; and Piper Ann Ross, 2 – after interviewing those who loved them. And then I wrote about the perpetrator based on interviews with the people who loved him. Two weeks on the job, and people wanted me fired. But I believed then – and still do – that people can do monstrous things without being monsters in the eyes of those who love them.

Tragedy compounded tragedy just 10 days later when another Sand Springs resident, David Kaser, 56, fatally shot his two daughters, Clarissa Kaser, 19, and Crystal β€œGrey” Kaser, 14, and then himself.

Understandably, the community was reeling. Those were dark days, not just for the families affected and their circles of friends but also for the city’s law enforcement community, most of whom had never dealt with crime on that scale. The grief is still visible to this day.

Related articles:

Sand Springs triple murder-suicide: Phillip Ross’ friends say he had been moving beyond troubled past, Feb 10, 2021

Sand Springs triple murder-suicide: Staci Smith’s friend, family saw trouble brewing, they say, Feb 10, 2021

Family slain in Sand Springs double murder-suicide identified, Feb 11, 2021

Loved. Missed. Remembered: Sand Springs’ COVID losses aren’t statistics. They’re friends, neighbors and relatives

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