Riviera Beach police at the scene of a murder-suicide in which six people were killed early Monday morning. (Lannis Waters, The Palm Beach Post)
Sun Sentinel and The Palm Beach Post
9:16 a.m. EDT, September 28, 2010
Three murder-suicides rocked South Florida on Monday and left 10 people dead.
Six were killed in a domestic murder-suicide in Riviera Beach before sunrise.
Hours later, it happened again in Lauderdale Lakes, with two dead.
The killings began shortly before 2 a.m. in Riviera Beach, as Natasha Whyte-Dell was surrounded by her seven children in their house near a cemetery.
Patrick Alexander Dell — whose growing anger and increasingly violent behavior has been chronicled in court records and police reports for the past three years — forced his way inside and started shooting. When Dell, 41, was finished, Whyte-Dell, 36, and four of her children were dead, according to city police, neighbors, relatives and friends. A fifth child lay bleeding from a gunshot wound to the neck but survived.
The two remaining children, a 1-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl whom Dell had fathered with his wife, were left unharmed.
Dell walked outside about 2 a.m., just as a police car pulled up to the house, put the gun to his head and shot himself dead, punctuating the worst mass murder-suicide in Palm Beach County's history.
"She was scared for her life," said Barbara Williams, a relative of Whyte-Dell's who used to help around the harried mother's busy house. "I told her to be careful because he had just gotten a gun. He finally did what he said he was going to do."
The couple, both born in Jamaica, married in Palm Beach Gardens in October 2006. Their problems began soon after.
In April 2008, Whyte-Dell asked a county judge for a restraining order against Dell, citing abusive behavior. She said Dell would yell and swear at her and that her then-13-year-old son, Ryan Barnett, would try to intervene.
"I had to get between him and my son," Whyte-Dell wrote in the petition, which ultimately was granted. "I am really afraid for myself and my children. I do not know what my husband will do next."
Whyte-Dell filed for divorce three times between 2007 and 2008 but voluntarily dismissed each case. Still, their relationship deteriorated until December 2009, when Whyte-Dell told police that Dell attacked her with a knife.
On Sunday night, people in the neighborhood said, Dell was drinking. One man said the jealous husband was overheard in a restaurant saying he was going to kill his family. Before 2 a.m., he made his way to his former Riviera Beach home at 1225 W. 30th St., pushed inside and started shooting, police said.
He killed Whyte-Dell and Daniel Barnett, 10, Jevon Nelson, 11, Diane Barnett, 13, and Bryan Barnett, 14. Daniel and Jevon were students at Bethune Elementary School. Diane went to Howell Watkins Middle. Bryan was a freshman at Palm Beach Gardens High.
Dell wounded Ryan Barnett, 15, who was in critical but stable condition in St. Mary's Medical Center, hospital officials said.
Hours later came another shooting, this one outside a Lauderdale Lakes home in the 4500 block of Northwest 32nd Court.
A woman recently moved to South Florida from the Philadelphia area in an attempt to flee an abusive relationship. Her ex-lover, though, found her and killed her Monday outside the house where she was staying, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office.
The woman was found dead on a bench beneath the home's carport, and the man's body lay on the ground beneath her, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Mike Jachles.
Early Tuesday, the woman was identified as Lena Mitiledessalines, 39. The man's name has not been released but he was 47, according to BSO.
Mitiledessalines had a 12-year-old daughter who was not at home at the time of the shooting, and a college-age son or daughter who attends school out of state, the Sheriff's Office said.
Three others who were inside the home were unharmed.
Shortly before 5:30 p.m., Broward sheriff's deputies called to a Tamarac home for a welfare check discovered a married couple dead inside.
The husband had sent a letter to an out-of-state relative warning that he intended to kill himself and his wife. According to sheriff's officials, the husband wrote that by the time the relative received the letter, it would be too late.
The gruesome find in the 7000 block of Northwest 106th Avenue was the third murder-suicide in the region in less than 24 hours.
Compiled from reports by Sun Sentinel staff writers Sofia Santana, Ihosvani Rodriguez and Linda Trischitta, and Palm Beach Post staff writers Cynthia Roldan, Michael LaForgia, Sonja Isger and Niels Heimeriks.