Ronald Gene Simmons, Sr., (July 15, 1940 – June 25, 1990) was a retired United States Air Force master sergeant who killed 16 people over a weeklong period in 1987. Fourteen of the victims were members of his family, including a daughter he had sexually abused and the child he had fathered with her. He also wounded four others.
Shortly before Christmas 1987, Simmons decided to kill all the members of his family. On the morning of December 22, he first killed his son Gene and his wife Rebecca at his home in Dover, Arkansas, by shooting them with a .22 caliber pistol. He then killed his 3-year-old granddaughter Barbara by strangulation. Simmons dumped the bodies in the cesspit he had made his children dig. Simmons then waited for his other children to return to the house. After their arrival, he told them he had presents for them but wanted to give them one at a time. He first killed his daughter, 17-year-old Loretta, whom Simmons strangled and held under the water in a rain barrel. The three other children, Eddy, Marianne, and Becky, were killed in the same way.
Around midday on December 26, the remaining members of the family arrived for their Christmas visit. The first to be killed was Simmons’ son Billy and his wife Renata; both were shot dead. Then Simmons strangled and drowned their 20-month-old son Trae. He shot and killed his oldest daughter Sheila — with whom he'd had an incestuous relationship — and her husband, Dennis McNulty. Simmons then strangled his child by Sheila, 7-year-old Sylvia Gail, and finally his 21-month-old grandson Michael. Simmons laid the bodies of his whole family in neat rows in the lounge. All the corpses were covered with coats except that of Sheila, who was laid in state covered by Rebecca Simmons' best tablecloth. The bodies of the two grandsons were wrapped in plastic sheeting and left in abandoned cars at the end of the lane. After the murders, Simmons went for a drink in a local bar, then returned to the house and, apparently oblivious to the corpses lined up around him, spent the rest of the evening and the following day drinking beer and watching television.
On the morning of December 28, Simmons drove into Russellville, walked into a law office, and killed the receptionist, a young woman named Kathy Kendrick; he had been infatuated with her, but she had rejected him. He next went to an oil company office, where he shot dead a man named J.D. Chaffin and wounded the owner, Rusty Taylor, and then drove on to a convenience store where he had previously worked, shooting and wounding two more people. Afterwards he went to the office of the Woodline Motor Freight Company, where he shot and wounded a woman. Simmons then simply sat in the office and chatted with one of the secretaries while waiting for the police. When they arrived, he handed over his gun and surrendered without any resistance.
Simmons was charged with 16 counts of murder, found guilty, and sentenced to death. He refused to appeal his death sentence, stating, "To those who oppose the death penalty in my particular case, anything short of death would be cruel and unusual punishment."
John Bynum successfully prosecuted the case. Simmons was first tried for the Russellville crimes, and a jury convicted him of capital murder and sentenced him to death. He made an additional statement, under oath, supporting his sentence: "I, Ronald Gene Simmons, Sr., want it to be known that it is my wish and my desire that absolutely no action by anybody be taken to appeal or in any way change this sentence. It is further respectfully requested that this sentence be carried out expeditiously." The trial court conducted a hearing concerning Simmons's competence to waive further proceedings, and concluded that his decision was knowing and intelligent.
While on death row, Simmons had to be separated from other prisoners as his life was threatened constantly. This was because he refused to appeal his death sentence; the other prisoners believed Simmons was damaging their chances of beating their own death sentences.
On May 31, Arkansas governor (later President) Bill Clinton signed Simmons' execution warrant, and on June 25, 1990, he died by the method he had chosen, lethal injection. None of his relatives would claim the body, and he was buried in a pauper's grave.