A neighbor of the Dacusville woman who has been charged with murdering her two children and trying to kill her husband told a Pickens County dispatcher on the morning of the incident “something’s not right” after the woman’s family didn’t answer the door when he tried to tell them that she had crashed a truck nearby, according to 911 recordings released Thursday.
Hours later Thursday, more than 200 people gathered outside Dacusville Elementary School, where the children were students, for a community-organized prayer vigil for their family.
“We saw a need for us to gather quickly for us to express our heartfelt sympathy for the death of two beloved children, our concerns for a critically wounded father,” said the Rev. Ashley McCoy Bruce, one of the organizers of the event.
“This is what a community does – we rally together in the worst of times, the most difficult of times. And this is the most difficult of times.”
The neighbor who called 911 can be heard talking to Suzanna Brown Simpson, the mother who faces murder charges, telling her not to move as he describes what happened.
“The lady’s hurt. She’s run off the road, run through the yard,” he tells the dispatcher. “She’s took down some trees and now she’s over here in the ditch.
“She don’t know where she is, she don’t know who she is. She’s been knocked unconscious.”
He called 911 again a few minutes later.
“Is there a policeman gonna come out here because something’s not right here,” he said.
“The lady that wrecked is my neighbor, and I’ve never seen her this early in the morning. Her husband’s truck and the other car is still in the yard. I can’t get her husband or kids to the door. She’s got two little kids, like 5 and 7.
“Something’s not right and she can’t tell me ‘cause she don’t know,” he said. “She’s talking away. She don’t know what’s going on, but we need somebody here to check this house.”
A few minutes later, emergency medical officials arrived and called the Sheriff’s Office.
Simpson’s children, Carly, 7, and Sawyer, 5, were found in their beds early Tuesday morning with fatal gunshot wounds. Her husband, Michael, remained hospitalized Thursday with life-threatening injuries from gunshot wounds, authorities said.
Suzanna Simpson also was in Greenville Memorial Hospital, under guard and listed in fair condition, authorities said. They haven’t disclosed the nature of her injuries.
Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins said Thursday there is no timetable to deciding if Suzanna Simpson would face the death penalty if convicted.
“We can’t put a definite timeline on when the decision is going to be made,” Wilkins told GreenvilleOnline.com. “We’ll wait until all the forensics are completed and all the evidence is in our possession.”
His office, which would prosecute the case, then will review the materials with law enforcement officials and consult the victims’ families, Wilkins said.
“We will then probably discuss the possibility (of the death penalty) with her defense counsel,” he said. “I’ll allow them to give me any mitigating reasons why we should not seek it and then I’ll make a decision.”
Wilkins said the case qualifies for the death penalty if Simpson is convicted because it involves multiple homicides and children under the age of 11.
At Thursday evening’s prayer vigil, Principal Michael Fleming quoted Jesus from the New Testament: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them. For to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
He added, “We take comfort tonight that Carly and Sawyer are claiming that promise and they’re safely in the arms of our savior.”
Nancy Zeigler, Carly’s first-grade teacher, said, “In room B-166 we are hugging a lot more often. We are telling each other I love you more often. And we are helping each other get through this.”
She said Anna Simpson was one of her room parents.
“My students knew her to be loving and kind,” she said. “She loved them and they loved her.”
Carly’s classmates have brought in flowers and trinkets to put in her seat, she said.
“Her jacket is in her cubby and her nameplate is at her table, and for the rest of the year those things will stay there, because Carly is still part of us,” she said.