Family massacred by son after dad says ‘Get a job!’
Alexander Jackson was a student who was struggling at college. And when his dad gave him an ultimatum, his response was sickening
When police arrived at a family home in the suburb of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, they suspected the emergency call they were responding to was a “swatting”. The term refers to when a prank 911 call is placed to prompt a strong police response to someone’s property – usually armed. There had been previous calls in the area that had turned out to be swattings and this particular 911 call had been noticeably vague.
The team who arrived on the morning of 15 June, 2021, were heavily armed because the caller had reported a possible shooter and when they entered the home, they discovered it was a genuine crime scene. They found Alexander Jackson, then 20, bleeding from a gunshot wound to his left foot. “There was a man,” he stammered, alerting officers to an intruder.
Jackson, a business student at the University of Iowa, lived with his parents, Jan, 61, and Melissa, 68, and his younger sister Sabrina,
19. As officers searched the house, they discovered the rest of the family were all dead in different rooms. Jackson appeared to be the sole survivor of a horrific shooting.
He’d called 911 from the house at 8.30am that morning, reporting that an intruder had broken in and had shot him and his father.
Officers found Jackson’s dad on the lower level of the home. He’d been shot five times, including in the chest and twice in the back of the head. His mum was in the master bedroom and she’d been shot three times including in the temple and in the left eye at close range. Sabrina had suffered two wounds to the ribcage and the left eye. She was found in
her lower-level bedroom next to where Jackson slept. They had all been shot with a semiautomatic rifle that belonged to the family. Jackson explained he and his dad had been cleaning the gun the night before and had left it on the fireplace. It would have been easy for someone to grab.
The gunman had clearly shown no mercy to the family, so Jackson was lucky to be alive. He said he’d been awoken by the sound of gunfire and described the intruder as “a tall black man, dressed in black with a mask and wearing green shoes”. Jackson said he’d been shot when he’d “charged” at the man and they fought over the gun. The gunman then fled through the back door. Jackson was taken to hospital to be treated and investigators searched the home. Straightaway, they could see that there was no forced entry and nothing had been stolen. Why had an intruder killed three people and then not taken anything?
Search for the truth
With no signs of anyone else having been in the home, Jackson became a prime suspect and was questioned in hospital. Over the next few hours, he admitted his dad had recently told
him he needed to find a job or he’d have to move out of the house.
Jackson insisted he’d been shot in the living room and had gone into his bedroom to call 911. But all the bloody footprints exited his bedroom. Had he shot his family before going into his own bedroom and shooting himself in the foot to cover up what he’d done?
Police certainly thought so and charged Jackson with three counts of first-degree murder. He was held on a $3 million bond and denied the charges.
The community were in shock. It was the first triple murder in Cedar Rapids for 19 years. A vigil was held at Kennedy High School, where the siblings had both attended, to remember Sabrina and her parents, Jan and Melissa.
At the trial this year, the prosecution described how Jackson’s dad had told his son that he needed to get a job or move out. He’d also told his son he was tired of his gaming and Jackson had allegedly been failing in college. Jackson only had around $30 in his bank account – his parents’ assets were estimated to be worth $2 million.
“Is money the motive?” the prosecutor asked. “Would he inherit the money and assets from his parents? I don’t know, but I don’t have to prove a motive. There’s never going to be a good enough reason why he killed his family.”
Medical experts said any of the five bullet wounds Jan suffered could have been fatal. The bullet Melissa took in her eye was fired inches from her head. A bullet passed through Sabrina’s organs and exited through her arm. It was a brutal set of killings. Investigators studied surveillance videos from neighbouring houses and none had
picked up any “burglar”. The box that stored the gun was found under Jackson’s bed.
Clearly not a victim
The prosecution said Jackson was misleading in his 911 call, so the police didn’t know what they’d find when they arrived. The defence team said that police had been very quick to accuse Jackson and the evidence was circumstantial, but the prosecution said there was no evidence to prove anyone else was there that day. In January this year,
Jackson, now 22, was found guilty of three counts of firstdegree murder for the death of his parents and his sister. Jackson had shot his dad as he walked down the stairs, then stood over him
and shot him two more times. He shot his sister in her bed and his mum in her bedroom. Then he shot himself in the foot.
“Alex wanted the world to think he was a victim of this horrendous crime, but we know that is not the case and now everyone knows the truth of what happened that day,” said Jan’s sister Kay Jackson and her daughter Danielle Jackson Parsons in a statement after the verdict. “Alex murdered three members of our family and that pain will never go away. Jan, Melissa and Sabrina were loved. They will live on in our hearts and the hearts of those who knew them forever.”
In March, Jackson was sentenced to three life sentences to run consecutively, without a chance of parole. He was also ordered to pay $450,000 in restitution and submit DNA. He didn’t make a statement. He had no criminal record and had no history of violence and yet he was capable of walking through his family home and shooting his mum, dad and sister dead, one by one.
‘The gunman had shown no mercy to the family’