Florida Mom Who Fired 18 Shots at Her Children May Have Killed Out of Love

Tonya ThomasNew details are emerging in the case of Tonya Thomas, the Florida mother who inexplicably killed her four teenage children last week. The kids, ranging in age from 12 to 17, were shot at point blank range with most of their wounds on the fronts of their bodies, meaning they were facing their mama, maybe even looking at her, when she opened fire on them two, three, four, up to seven times each.

Experts say the gun Thomas used, a Taurus .38 caliber, can only hold a round of six shots, which means she would’ve had to stop and reload three times during the assault on her children. I can’t even begin to imagine the agony of watching your mother not only kill your siblings one by one, but the terror of waiting as she reloaded, knowing your turn to die was inevitably coming up. My heart actually aches thinking about it.

The Brevard County district medical examiner released findings yesterday that conclude Thomas was no more than two feet away when she unloaded some 18 hollow point bullets into Pebbles Johnson, 17; Jaxs Johnson, 15; Jazzlyn Johnson, 13; and Joel Johnson, 12.

Jazzlyn was hit the most, with seven shots throughout the midsection of her body. Joel was shot five times. Jaxs took three bullets in his chest. Pebbles was also riddled with three shots. Adding to the obvious heart wrenching question of why Thomas did it is the curious fact that neither she nor any of the children had any defensive wounds and the home showed no sign of a struggle, even though many of the shots were taken at contact range, meaning she put the muzzle of the gun right up against their bodies and pulled the trigger. They didn’t push her. They didn’t fight her. It just happened, almost like they were expecting it.

More from The Stir: 4-Year-Old Stabbed by Teen Cousin Doubles a Family Tragedy

Toxicology reports are being conducted and autopsies are being performed, which can take time. In the meanwhile, I’m praying for the neighbor three of the children ran to for help before their mother called them back home, who refused to let the Johnsons in their house during the confusion. I’m praying for the kids and the lives that were cut short by the hands of their own mama and I’m praying for Thomas herself, who for reasons known only to her—maybe not even to her children—murdered the babies she birthed and then took her own life.

Maybe, in her unstable mind, it was the only way to protect them from the struggles, disappointments, and anguishes of life. Maybe she was temporarily out of her mind or maybe she had exercised a lifetime of manipulative control over her children. Maybe she was frustrated, crazed, hopeless. Maybe she loved them so much that she didn’t want them to suffer the same pitfalls she had experienced.

That’s all we have for now. The maybes. Nothing is certain, nothing is for sure except that an entire family is gone just like that and four promising, beautiful children—because every child, no matter how much trouble they’ve caused in their rebellious teenage years, is still promising and beautiful—won’t go to the prom or graduate high school or wait in anticipation for a college acceptance letter or eat junk food on the sofa or giggle with their friends about their favorite reality show or send a text message or roll their eyes at their mother or learn the newest dance. That’s a lot of life lost, a lot of mourning to work through.

Do you know your neighbors?  

Image via mrphishphotography

crime, child abuse, death

38 Comments

To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

jspla... jsplash23

Obviously this woman was troubled, that's clear but I think to say that she "may have killed out of love" as the headline of this article states is wildly misleading. Her and her children were not waiting to be marched off to a concentration camp or to a brothel. No one kills someone with a hollowpoint bullet out of love. Hollowpoints cause more damage and are more deadly than regular bullets. She was their mother, that's not love!!! Had she dosed them with a lethal amount of sleeping pills, just maybe I could see your point about how in her twisted mind it was out of love, but not with hollow points!

nonmember avatar HappyDad

I am at such a loss as to understanding the thought process of writers like you. I don't care how you try to reshape this, they were the actions of an evil person!!! Love does not make you kill the ones you 'love'. Please stop trying to excuse the actions of evil people and start calling them out for what they truly are.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Dang your title is pretty shitty like you are defending her and can understand why she did this. She should not have shot her kids, that much is true, we can ALL say that much. She should have shot herself, then the title could read " mom kills herself out of love". This is such a sad story.

Mindi Brizendine

I'm sorry but no one kills their children out of love. It's sick what she did. I can't imagine what she was thinking, but I hope her children can rest in peace.

Jenny... JennyG0929

Ugh, I wish the Stir would stop reposting this awful news stories. I come her to escape the bad news/

CPN322 CPN322

Agree with jsplash23. Hollow points cause way more damage and pain then regular bullets.

nonmember avatar Lord K

Woah, woman, that is just SICK!! You're almost as bad as the mother for thinking you can justify or support this cold-blooded murder of four children!

nonmember avatar kevobx

All these sorrows concerning women and their children, it was written about. What happen to the saying, God is love, and he loves everybody where is the neighbourhood church at? They all went into hiding, love thy neighbour, only when it's convenient. Find out what God loves, he loves the twelve tribes of Jacob and hated Esau and his state of Israel!

SoJaided SoJaided

The author doesn't seem to be defending the mother. Just laying out her thoughts trying to gain some perspective on the situation to try and understand what the hell this woman was thinking.

KenneMaw KenneMaw

The murders were done out of "crazy", not love.   One report i heard was that the mother often threatened to kill herself so that is why the kids returned home.   I can't imagine what they faced inside that house in their final moments.    My heart breaks for those kids. 

1-10 of 38 comments 1234 Last
F