CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. – The Chesterfield father accused of killing his wife and two children before committing suicide on Father’s Day left a third child unharmed.
Chris Jernigan, 35, had a teenage son from a previous marriage. He was not there when shots were fired inside his father’s Matoaca home.
Friends of the teenager called the child intelligent and kind. They said while he lives with family in Disputana, he remained close to his father.
“If his daddy didn’t feel loved by anybody else, he was definitely loved by his son,” Lucinda Cook, whose son is friends with the teen, said.
Family members who gathered at the Jernigan home Tuesday said the teenager was left completely devastated by Sunday’s events.
Cook said she hoped the teen would be able to find the right person to talk with and be fully able to express his grief.
“He needs to feel what he feels,” she said. “He needs to do that; he needs to feel.”
Renotta Jernigan and her two children were murdered just eight days after friends said she told her husband she wanted a divorce.
Renotta, 30, and Chris, 35, had been married for six years. According to Renotta’s lifelong friend Courtney Winn, Renotta was upset by his inability to keep a job and she “was over it.”
Chris has worked the past four months at EcoLab, and told Courtney’s husband that he was having trouble keeping that job due to problems with Renotta.
On Father’s Day Chris sent out a goodbye message via his work email that read: “God give me the strength not to do this.”
His last Facebook post was “Just pray for my kids they understand.” Renotta posted a comment asking him to call her.
A final text read “Goodbye everyone.”
A “Renotta Jernigan and Children Benefit Fund” was set-up to assist the family with burial costs. Donations can be made at any Bank of McKenney branch.
The investigation into the shooting remains on-going, police said. Anyone with any information should contact the Chesterfield County Police 804-748-1251.