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

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

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. 


      • Phil

        Really? A car accident 15 years ago. Also, let’s forget the fact that a few days before Sunday the wife wanted a divorce. I doubt the accident had anything to do with it.

    • Federico

      It shows just how much of a POS this guy has been for some time now. Of course we don’t know the specifics of that 12 year old girls death, except that he apparently blame it on her not wearing a seat belt. Really!? The courts expunged the record and the circumstances surrounding it. Sounds like the legal system failed that 12 year old girls family and might have been a small part leading up to his final heinous crime.

  • Charmayne

    This has nothing to do with what happened on Sunday. Don’t you think their family and friends have been through enough already?? Not to mention,how the media is twisting everything and not telling the truth. I don’t know how you people (the media) can even sleep a night with all the nonsense you air. This story has absolutely nothing at all to do with what happened! Let their friends and family grieve in peace!

      • Troll

        athynz, you claim the life he took years ago had no relevance to the recent event. Hmmmm…. I don’t recall you ever being correct or profound in these kinds of matters. Perhaps you just finished a post graduate degree in psychology?

      • athynz

        athynz, you claim the life he took years ago had no relevance to the recent event. Hmmmm…. I don’t recall you ever being correct or profound in these kinds of matters. Perhaps you just finished a post graduate degree in psychology?

        JUNE 18, 2014 AT 7:54 PM”

        David you are truly a stalker. Seriously I’m not the only one or even the first to say that and yet here you are commenting just to me. The first one was an automobile accident where he was driving recklessly – from the article: “…pleaded guilty in 1999 to reckless driving after a 12-year-old girl riding in his car died during an accident…” As we do not know if the life lost in that accident was intentional or accidental at this point it has no relevance to the murders he committed. You were saying?

  • Wake up

    You guys are jerks for posting this ‘news’ it has nothing to do with what happened Sunday so why drag his name through the mud even more? No class.

    • Daniel

      He murdered his children and wife and you are worrying about “dragging” his name trough the mud. What a ridiculous world we live in.

  • Tonya

    They need to drag his name through the mud. His crazy a** killed these babies & their mother, none who deserved this. It’s no need to sugar coat his crazy a**. He knew exactly what he was doing. Why kill the babies??? He should have just killed himself since he couldn’t live without her.

    • athynz

      He’s definitely a POS and deserves a special spot in hell for sure – but we don’t know if he intended to kill that 12 year old or if it was a result of his driving recklessly and was accidental. A friend of mine was driving recklessly several years ago with a passenger, lost control of the car, and the passenger – his girlfriend – was killed. The 1999 death of that girl in Jernigan’s car could be something similar.

  • SMH

    I don’t condone his actions on Sunday, however, dude heart was probably heavy. I wouldn’t doubt an attorney rehashed this story as his defense. Think about it……he probably just had his son, mistakenly killed little girl. That had to be horrible to live with. That’s probably why he couldn’t keep jobs. Folks need to be aware of mental illness. IJS

  • Marie

    MAN REALLY PEOPLE???!!! Im sick of the sympathy you all are giving this FOOL. Drag his name in the mud? Mental illness? If he was black, you all would not be saying none of this CRUD. The only thing that made sense here is the person who said something about this story opening old wounds for the 12 years olds family…..but then again him killing his whole family probably already did that so dont blame the news. Why are you all not slamming him like you do black men when they murder? Forget how often black people kill versus white. A kill is a kill is a kill. Less does not mean anything. Racist punks.

    • athynz

      I find it sad and ironic that you are the only one to bring race into this and have the stones to call everyone racist punks. You want to see a racist punk Marie look in the mirror.

      • Marie

        The truth is the truth. Pointing out racist things doesn’t make person racist. Nice try… Not!

      • athynz

        Shelly how does that even make sense? What is happening here? What part of the father murdering his family is racist? And the insult? Really? Oh wait, you are David simply exploring his feminine side… same M.O. – make an insulting comment, don’t once comment on the article… nice try boy.

      • David

        No, not me athynz. My observation would be that you are saying nothing but talking to hear yourself talk, as per usual. In any case I did not make the referenced response.

Comments are closed.