Nebraska man who killed parents and niece a day after Christmas last year offered no reason for the gun violence

Dalton arrived at his parents' home on December 26, 2017, guns blazing, shooting through the door and striking his mother. He then entered the house and shot his father and niece


                            Nebraska man who killed parents and niece a day after Christmas last year offered no reason for the gun violence

A Nebraska man who fatally shot both his parents and niece on the day after Christmas in 2017 pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and four gun-related counts.

Douglas County District Judge Leigh Ann Retelsdorf handed down three life sentences as well as another 197 to 230 years in prison to 46-year-old John Dalton Jr. in the triple murders of father John Dalton Sr., 70, mother Jean Dalton, 65, and niece Leonna Dalton-Phillip, 18.

Jean (left) was shot four times while John Sr. was shot five times (Source: GoFundMe)
Jean (left) was shot four times while John Sr. was shot five times (Source: GoFundMe)

According to the Omaha World-Herald, Dalton arrived at his parents' home on December 26, 2017, guns blazing, shooting through the door and striking his mother.

He then entered the house and shot his father before then targeting his 18-year-old niece who was hiding inside a bedroom closet. An autopsy showed that John Sr. had been shot five times, Jean four times, and Leonna twice. 



The entire incident was witnessed by Leonna's six-year-old sister London Dalton, who had run downstairs to hide after hearing the gunshots. She was later found by another relative after Dalton left the home. She had told the relative she saw "Uncle JJ" — as he was widely known — shooting up the family.

Omaha police later tracked him down to Jackson, Tennessee, the same state he had previously fled to after he had fatally shot his then-22-year-old wife, Shannon Dalton, in 1998. He had proceeded to serve over 11 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter and was released on parole in 2010.

18-year-old Leonna was shot twice (Source: GoFundMe)
18-year-old Leonna was shot twice (Source: GoFundMe)

Despite reportedly being ostracized by the rest of the family for displaying some odd sexual behaviors, Dalton's parents had continued to support him. His mother is said to have pleaded with the judge for leniency during his trial and later appealed to the parole board for his release. During his absence, Jean and John Sr. had taken care of their son's three daughters, who were at the home at the time Dalton killed their mother.

The motives for the murders remain unclear, with the trial doing little to shed light on Dalton's killing spree as the 46-year-old did not offer an explanation while pleading guilty to his seven charges. Speaking at the hearing, chief deputy Douglas County Attorney Brena Beadle said, "They’re looking for answers — and they’re asking lots of questions — but sometimes there are none. It’s just pure evil," adding, "'If ever there was a case that warranted the maximum sentence, this is it."

Dalton's youngest daughter, Alicia, was the only one of his three daughters to speak at the hearing, stating that she was struggling to figure out why her father had killed her grandparents and cousin. She said her "heart was buried" on the day of their funeral and that "in a matter of seconds, everything I had was lost."