HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — The family of a woman who was killed along with three of her children in a murder-suicide has released a statement so the public can understand the legacy their loved one left behind.
Athalia Crayton was shot and killed on the morning of Jan. 7 along with three of her children, allegedly by her husband Robert Jeffrey Crayton Jr., who then shot and killed himself. One older family member and a friend were able to escape the house and shout for help.
Through their attorney, Harold Eustache Jr., the family has released a statement about Athalia, or “Art” as they called her, and her children.
“Athalia Athena Crayton and her wonderful children; Nasir, Nyla, and Kasim, were a light to everyone they met. Their lives were taken too soon – yet their legacy lives on from the shores of Jamaica to the campus of NC A&T.”
Crayton was a Jamaican-American whose family is from Kingston, Jamaica. She grew up in Miami and South Carolina, and had lived in South Korea and Pennsylvania as well. She was a veteran, a sergeant in the Army who served in the Second Infantry Division as a heavy equipment mechanic and worked as a certified life coach and interior designer, and studied at NC A&T, as well.
The family says “most importantly” she was a dedicated, loving mother.
“Her kind heart spills onto her children who she loves so much that she’ll go through hardship for a season to make sure that her children flourish,” her niece said.
“Art was an amazing mother, committed wife, loving sister, and honorable daughter.” Her brother described her as “everyone’s best friend.”
The statement concludes “her family will continue to honor her and her children in the coming weeks with a memorial service and video statement.”
“The family would like to express their gratitude for all the love, support, prayers and well wishes that have been extended to them.”
The investigation continues
As the family mourns the loss of their loved ones, High Point Police Department is working to piece together what happened on the morning of Jan. 7. According to officers, they received several 911 calls just after 7 a.m. about two people, a man and a woman, who were on Mossy Meadow Drive asking for help.
“The man said that it was his father. He woke up, and there was a gun to his head. Somehow he pulled the magazine out of the gun, and they escaped,” a neighbor told FOX8.
When the officers arrived, they were directed to a home where they found Athalia, Nasir, Nyla, Kasim and Robert Crayton Jr. all shot to death. Investigators determined that it was a murder-suicide, and that Robert Crayton Jr. had shot his wife and children before turning the gun on himself.
At a press conference on January 9, officers confirmed that he had a history of mental health issues and that an involuntary commitment had been served the year before.
“We are heartbroken and our thoughts are with the family,” Guilford County Schools said of the tragedy; Athalia and Robert’s three children were students at GCS. Kasim and his 16-year-old sibling attended Ragsdale while their 10-year-old sibling attended Union Hill Elementary School.
“I have been in law enforcement a little over 18 years now, and I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude in the City of High Point,” Captain Matt Truitt said in an interview on Jan. 8.
“We may never know why,” said Lieutenant Patrick Welch. “What goes through the hearts and minds of a person that would do this sometimes dies with them.”