El Dorado family dead in murder-suicide
Bryant killed his children and wife, then himself, officials say
Walt Wiley and Peter Hecht -- Bee Staff Writers
Published 2:15 a.m. PST Saturday, March
family of six that moved from Shingle Springs to McMinnville
, in May was
found dead in a murder-suicide, authorities in Oregon
Bryant killed his wife and four children before turning the gun on himself,
said Yamhill County District Attorney Bradley C. Berry. All
apparently had been killed by shotgun blasts.
"Mr. Robert Bryant killed his wife and children and then took his
own life," Berry
said. A motive
is not yet known.
children last attended school Feb. 22. Based on a receipt with a time
stamp found in the home, the shootings are believed to have occurred
the night of Feb. 23, he said.
body of Bryant, 37, a landscaper who owned Bryant's Landscape Maintenance
in El Dorado
until the business failed 19 years later, was found in the living room
with a shotgun still in his right hand.
dead were his 37-year-old wife, Janet Ellen Bryant, and their children:
Clayton, 15, Ethan, 12, Ashley, 10, and Alyssa, 8.
bodies were discovered Thursday after several reports by neighbors that
no one had been seen around the house for two weeks. Investigators believe
they had been dead for three weeks.
Bryants left California
Bryant's business failed and a bitter split with family members and
the Jehovah's Witnesses Shingle Springs congregation. The
Bryant family lived for four years in a well-kept, ranch-style home
on an acre of manz anita
oaks near Shingle Springs. They had purchased the home for $159,000
in 1997 and sold it for $245,000 in May.
family moved to Mc-Minnville, 40 miles southwest of Portland
, and lived
in a travel trailer from midsummer until Christmas at the Olde
Bryants finished paying in December for the 2.2 acres they bought for
$96,000 from Dennis Goecks, a former Yamhill
and neighbor. They planned to build a permanent residence next to the
double-wide modular home in which they'd most recently been living,
family used to remind us of what we were like when we first got here,"
Goecks said. "They were excited to have found a beautiful place
to live. They were excited about making it look really great."
Shingle Springs, Mark Messier Sr., an elder at the Shingle Springs Congregation
of Jehovah's Witnesses, said Bryant was expelled from the congregation
about three years ago after he announced that he no longer accepted
its religious teachings.
said Bryant also became estranged from several branches of his family,
including his parents, three brothers and a sister in the Shingle Springs
and Cameron Park area. He
said other family members were Jehovah's Witnesses and the split appeared
to involve differences over
had isolated his children from the rest of the family," Messier
said. "They wanted access to visit with the children, like grandparents
would and like uncles would. But he (Bryant) was refusing to allow them
said grieving members of Bryant's extended family were headed to Oregon
bodies were discovered by Yamhill County Sheriff's Detective Jack Crabtree
about 9 p.m.
during an unrelated call in the rural neighborhood.
used a ladder to peer through a window after neighbors expressed concern
for the family that had not been seen for weeks. He said that when he
saw Robert Bryant's body on the floor, he knew he would find more bodies
and Alyssa were in one room, in twin beds formed like an L. Older brothers
Ethan and Clayton were in bunk beds in anothe r
r oom. Their
mother was on the floor nearby. There was a lone spent shell for each
area schools Friday, teachers and students wept, hugged one another
and talked about the kids they hadn't had time to get to know very well.
Webb, an 18-year-old senior at McMinnville High School , knew Clayton
Bryant as a nice person who never gave anyone any problems.
would always be telling me about how he had redone some guy's whole
lawn that weekend and that he had been paid," Webb said.
Jo Scott owns a catboarding business in Newberg. She became worried
about the family after Bryant failed to show up to complete irrigation
work he had contracted to do. She,
like many others Friday, was left searching for answers.
just seemed to be such a nice fellow," Scott said. "He had
the sweetest smile."
they sold their house and were packing up to move, he said he was having
a tough time with his business here and he had a better opportunity
in Oregon," said Bob Riley, a neighbor who lived a few houses down
the gravel Pleasant View Lane where the Bryants lived near Shingle Springs.
whose family moved into the neighborhood in March 2000, said his family
tried to befriend the Bryants because they had children of similar ages.
said the Bryant parents kept a close watch on their children and seemed
reluctant to have them socialize with the neighbors.
tried to create some opportunities for the kids to play together, and
we invited them to our church," Riley said. "But (Robert Bryant)
said they were Jehovah's Witnesses and they celebrated the Sabbath on
Saturday instead of Sunday. We tried maybe a half-dozen times to get
the kids together but came to the conclusion that they were a family
that wanted to keep their kids close and they didn't want to expose
them to outside influences of any kind."
said Bryant would take the children on fishing and camping trips. "The
children were well-liked and respected by everybody who knew them,"
Messier said. "The children have always been very outgoing and
energetic and sociable. But he limited their socialization. That was