John Dalton Jr. (Omaha, Neb., Police Department)

A Nebraska man was taken into custody after being accused of killing his own parents as well as his teenage niece.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, the police have not yet said what may have motivated 46-year-old John Dalton Jr. to kill his parents, John and Jean Dalton, as well as 18-year-old Leonna Dalton-Phillip, his young niece.

Dalton Jr., who had spent time in prison for killing his wife, was arrested Wednesday in the deaths of his parents and niece on a first-degree murder warrant outside of Tennessee.

Claude Phillip, Leonna’s father, said that the violence appeared to have happened quickly, as the 18-year-old Burke High School senior’s car was still running outside of her grandparents’ home when officers arrived to investigate the Tuesday-night shooting.

“Leonna was stopping by after work to pick up her sister and get a plate of food from her grandmother,” Phillip said Wednesday. “Her car was still running. That’s how fast all this happened.”


That younger sister, London Dalton, was the one who ran to a neighbor’s house at around 7:30 p.m., saying, “They shot my family.”

Leonna, her father said, was a straight-A student who had received scholarship offers to college, opportunities that have now been taken from her.

“She thought she might want to go to school in California,” he said. “We were just investigating that.”


Omaha World-Herald screenshot

As for the Daltons, they were loving grandparents who doted on everyone.

“They loved everybody,” Phillip added of the Daltons. “They even treated my other kids like they were their own grandkids.


Dalton Jr. served more than 11 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter in the death of his wife, Shannon. Dalton Jr. initially faced charges of second-degree murder in the case but later pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his wife of about five years.

The couple had three daughters who were 6, 5 and 3 at the time. They had heard, but did not witness, the shooting, according to the World-Herald.

After their mother’s death, the children were put into the care of Jean Dalton, who maintained custody of them until they reached adulthood.


Dalton Jr. is currently being held without bail because he is considered a flight risk, especially after being caught already apparently fleeing, authorities said.

“Given the chance, he’d run again,” Deputy Douglas County Attorney Jennie Dugan-Hinrichs told a judge.

“He lived just a couple blocks away, but I don’t think [his parents] saw him a lot,” Phillip said. “Jean would try to talk to him, but she said he was never the same after he got out of prison.”


Read more at the Omaha World-Herald.