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Sunday, March 7, 2021

New details released in Elkmont family massacre

Credit: WAAY ABC Huntsville, AL
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New details released in Elkmont family massacre
New details released in Elkmont family massacre
New details released in Elkmont family massacre

You're taking a live look from the scene of a massacre in limestone county.

Deputies tell us - an elkmont teenager - using an illegal handgun - shot and killed five members of his own family.

That teen is in custody -- and now the community is trying to come to grips with what happened in their small town.

The dead include a father -- john sisk ... a stepmother -- mary sisk -- who was a teacher at huntsville city schools ... and three siblings - a 6 year old boy ..

A 5 year old girl ..

And a 6 month old boy.

This killings sent shockwaves across the county.

Those who knew them say the family that was killed brought kindness to the community... "happy and there were always smiling and laughing, and they just they were always doing for people."

Thanks for joining us tonight.

I'm dan shaffer.

And i'm najahe sherman.

Ad lib what's happening right now we're bringing you team coverage of this investigation as it unfolds.

Waay 31's breken terry is looking into the suspect -- as well as the dynamic of the family who was murdered.

We start with waay 31's sydney martin ..

She's at the limestone county sheriff's office checking in on the investigation and has the latest details.

Sydney what can you tell us.

The sheriff's office hasn't updated us since a brief 4 minute update around 1pm.

They told us to keep an eye on twitter ... they haven't posted anything since since about 10am.

They wouldn't take any questions this afternoon but identified the two adult victims and they walked us through how their investigation identified the 14-year-old teen as the shooter.

The limestone sheriff's office said the 14-year-old boy called 9-1-1 around 11 o'clock monday night and met sheriff's deputies in the driveway of the family's home.

He told investigators he was downstairs in the basement when he heard gunshots on the main level of the home.

However, his story changed later and he admitted to shooting his 5 family members, then led investigators to the gun.

Stephen young, limestone county sheriff's office "he did assist investigators later in the evening and this morning in finding the handgun on the side of the road where he allegedly tossed it.

Right now we wont be able to give you a lot of conformable information about that handgun other than it was illegally in the residence."

The sheriff's office did tell us the gun was in the home illegally.

We don't know what that means -if it was stolen or if someone in the home isn't allowed to be around guns.

We do know the confession from the 14-year-old boy came after sheriff mike blakely and an investigator brought him to the sheriff's office to discuss what had happened inside the home.

As soon as we learn more we will bring it to you on air and online at waay tv dot com live in limestone county sm waay 31 news.

After the news of what happened broke, i spent some time today talking to people in the town square area of athens.

Many of them learned about incident through social media and others turned on the television this morning and that's how they found out.

One woman told me its devastating and she is thinking about the family.

One man told me he can't believe this happened in his community.

1 -7 wanda campbell/ athens - my heart just breaks for the family.

There is no way to even imagine something like that.

7 - 21 well in this community we don't really have things like this happen very often but you never know what people are doing out there or what they are feelings are towards anything.

Take a look at this.

Here's a live look from tuscumbia.

For the meantime -- this juvenile detention facility is where the accused teen killer is being held.

Now charged with 5 juvenile murder charges -- it's where he will likely stay until the case is played out in the court.

Court documents we uncovered shed some light on what the sisk family dynamic was like.

Waay31's breken terry is live in downtown athens to show us what she's uncovered.


We know the suspect's father, and his biological mother had not been together for quite some time.

The suspect's mother actually died in 2011 in indiana.

As we began to dig into the family's background we found this court document where john sisk asked the alabama courts for full custody of his son, who is now accused of killing him and four other family members.

These documents go back to 2010.

And in one portion, john sisk explains why he's the better parent to raise his child.

He says, the suspect's mother struggled with drugs and alcohol.

And hadn't seen her son in some two years.

Not even a phone call.

On three separate times sisk said in these documents that the police returned the child to him because of the mothers 'condition'.

While this custody battle was playing out the child was about six years old.

We also read in court documents where john sisk tried serving the suspect's biological mother on numerous times but they could never find her.

In 2011 john sisk was awarded custody of his son because of the mother's death.

Live in athens bt waay31 we reached out to the limestone county school district about the shooting and they sent us this statement... "limestone county schools is deeply saddened by the tragic event that has occurred in the elkmont community.

We are concentrating our efforts in assisting our students, faculty and community in dealing with this tragedy."

The district told us counselors will be available for students today.

We're also hearing from huntsville city schools.

Mary sisk taught at mountain gap middle school.

The district spokesman sent us this statement -- saying in part - "we are heartbroken to learn of the tragedy involving one of our teachers, mary sisk, and her family.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the sisk family and we ask everyone to remember them during this difficult time."

There will be extra counselrs and resources available to students and staff.

In a little more than a year -- the small town of elkmont - and limestone county - has been rocked by a string of murders -- taking a toll on the community.

In 2018 -- there were 8 murders in limestone county linked directly back to domestic violence.

Those included three murder- suicides.

This march -- a person was shot and killed -- and the suspect wasn't arrested for 5 months!

Then in july in ardmore, just a few miles from elkmont -- a man was arrested for killing his wife and a 74-year-old man he didn't know.

Last night's events add to a number of massacres that have happened in alabama in the past few decades.

Here's a look at a few of those mass murders.

In 2016 -- five people were murdered in citronville during a meth-induced killing spree.

One of the victims was a pregnant woman.

In north alabama - a "university of alabama in huntsville" professor killed 3 people and wounded 3 others while at a university meeting with colleagues in 2010.

And in march of 2009 - a gunman killed five family members at various loactions across coffee and geneva counties.

He would go on to kill a total of 10 people.

A-l dot com said there have been almost a dozen mass murders in the state dating back to 1941.

This tragedy hits close to home for everyone in the small community .... including the limestone county commission.

As waay 31's steven dilsizian reports, it was top of mind as they started their meeting this morning.

<nat sound daly at commission meeting "i have a son in the same class as one of the victims of this..."

Limestone county commission chairman collin daly says he was born and raised in elkmont.

The same goes for his children.

To him, it's home... but today.... its a community facing tragedy.

Take sot: collin daly - limestone county commission chairman "it happened within 3 miles of my home and we live in a small community up in elkmont, and everybody kind of knows everybody" daly says he learned of the tragedy early tuesday morning.

He says he has a senior at elkmont high school... the same school where the confessed gunman is a freshman.

Take sot: collin daly - limestone county commission chairman "my son texted home and told my wife this morning, she had already known about it, i just can't imagine what the morale is like up there today" daly says he also has a son in 1st grade... the same grade as one of the victims killed.

He says his son is too young to fully understand what happened .... take sot: collin daly - limestone county commission chairman "we're not used to tragedy like this, you know you hear it on the news, this happened in california, this happened in new york, and here it is right in our back door" but says high schoolers must be feeling the impact.

And while we don't yet know a motive, daly wants everyone to know help is always available.

Take sot: collin daly - limestone county commission chairman "i don't know how you learn from a situation like this but maybe we can get more education in the schools, educate children you know, that there is help out there" in limestone county -- sd -- waay31 news.

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