Investigators may never know what David Conley was thinking when he methodically executed his former girlfriend, her husband and her six children near Houston on Saturday. Experts tell the Houston Chronicle such rage, born of power and pain, is a common thread in cases of domestic violence and is most lethal in the final throes of an abusive relationship. For at least 15 years Conley and Valerie Jackson had an on-again, off-again relationship marked by violence. He’d cut her with a knife and wrapped an electric cord around one of her babies’ necks. He threatened to kill her and all of her children. He was sentenced to jail for five years for attacking her. She kept on taking him back.
In July, he assaulted her again when she tried to stop him from flogging one of her children with a belt. She kicked him out, filed charges against him and changed the locks on the house to keep him out. On Saturday, police say he broke in through a window and shot everyone. Experts and police said Conley took the ultimate step to show he was in charge. By allegedly taking all of Jackson’s children, possibly as she watched, she died over and over inside before dying from a gunshot to the head. “The ending of a relationship is more dangerous to her, and lethal to her, than staying in most cases,” said Melissa Hamilton, a visiting criminal law scholar at the University of Houston Law Center. “That is the ultimate threat to him and to his masculinity and, well, to his standing as basically being king of the household.” A Texas Council on Family Violence report shows that 119 Texas women died in domestic violence killings in 2013 and 114 women were killed in 2012.