A Texas man who implicated himself in the murder of his entire family last year during a 911 call finally made his admission formal on Friday.
“I just killed my whole family,” Michael Paton, 38, told emergency dispatchers on the night of Feb. 19, 2021. He later said his house was on fire but was not sure how any of the events had transpired, saying he “woke up and they were dead and the gun was in my hand.”
According to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by Sherman, Texas-based CBS/MyNetworkTV/Fox affiliate KXII, the defendant gave somewhat conflicting or confused information while on the phone, telling police his wife was in their closet and not breathing.
As for the couple’s two children, he couldn’t find them, he said – but told police that they wouldn’t come when he called for them.
Paton also told the dispatcher that he still had the gun in his hand as he left the house and that as he left the structure went up in flames. The defendant went on to tell police he was, again, not sure if he had started the fire with his wife and children inside.
Officers were dispatched immediately and only learned about the potential fire on the way to the Collin County residence.
The Celina Police Department arrived at the scene shortly after the call; firefighters arrived next and the house was fully ablaze. Eventually, the body of an adult woman and two children were found. Paton was arrested on the scene and charged with all three murders.
#BREAKING The scene outside a home in Celina. @CelinaPolice called to a shooting and @CelinaFireDept called for a structure fire at the same home. PD confirms one person arrested and three bodies recovered from inside home. Being investigated as homicide @wfaa pic.twitter.com/9lXYHRaBkE
— Jobin Panicker (@jobinpnews) February 20, 2021
According to the Celina Record, the inferno was quickly tamed, but law enforcement did not initially identify the bodies.
On Friday morning, the defendant pleaded guilty to capital murder of multiple persons, the CPD noted in a press release. He was swiftly sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
“Today’s sentencing closes a tragic chapter in our City’s history, and we will therefore offer no further comments about the case at this time,” the CPD added, thanking multiple agencies that worked on the “long investigation” with “relentless effort.”
Latonna Whitt, a neighbor, told KXII that the family rarely interacted with anyone else in the small and “very tight knit community.” Celina is part of the sprawling Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
”This just didn’t happen this day, it led up to this,” she said, after the victims had been identified. “What I took from it is we need to be more aware of our neighbors, our surroundings and making sure you’re taking care of people because we’re all going through something and you just never know. Maybe if we were more connected and making more efforts we could have, you know, he could have been more connected to get help or reach out to someone at a struggling time as opposed to being isolated and then a tragedy like this happens.”
[image via Collin County Jail]
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