COMPLETE COVERAGE: Latest on desperate search to find missing college student

Father who murdered family caused crash that killed child, in 1999

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — A Chesterfield man who police said murdered his wife, son, and step-daughter on Father’s Day pleaded guilty in 1999 to reckless driving after a 12-year-old girl riding in his car died during an accident, according to court records from Dinwiddie County.

Court records show Barry Jernigan, better known as Chris, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in 1999.

The documents show that Jernigan was “involved in a vehicle accident which killed a child riding in his car without a seat belt.”

The child, Jennifer Caudle, was 12-years-old at the time.

It is unclear what her relationship with Jernigan was at the time, but court records show they had family ties.

Jernigan pleaded not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charge.

Court records show a judge ended up finding him guilty of a lesser charge, reckless driving, which is a misdemeanor.

CBS 6 also confirmed Caudle’s family sued Jernigan after her death.

Court documents show Jernigan had to pay Caudle’s family thousands of dollars as part of a settlement.

Jernigan was married to Renotta Jernigan 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.” She had told him she wanted a divorce.

On Father’s Day Chris sent out a goodbye 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.”

Several friends moved quickly to intervene after receiving these messages. They came so close to getting police to Renotta.

Around 10 p.m. Sunday night, police were tracking Chris’ workphone, friends said.

When they arrived to the family home, police heard multiple gunshots, as did neighbors. Police found neighbors attempting to aid Jernigan and her 2-year-old son, Seth, who had both been shot.

Police found Chris and Lexi Kellas, Renotta’s daughter from a previous marriage, shot dead inside the house.

Renotta died on scene, and Seth died later at the hospital.

Read more here. 

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