Tina Alvey, The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va.
Jan. 22—A six-week probe into the deaths of five Greenbrier County children and an adult woman, identified as Oreanna Antoinette Myers, all of whose remains were found in and around their burned home in December culminated this week with the public confirmation of what had long been whispered in the community. Investigators concluded that Myers, age 25, had shot and killed each of the five boys, ranging in age from 1 to 7, before torching the Williamsburg home where they all lived, and then taking her own life at a nearby picnic table, Greenbrier County Sheriff Bruce Sloan revealed at a somber media conference at the State Fairgrounds on Thursday.
Myers was the mother of three of the boys — 4-year-old Kian Myers, 3-year-old Aarikyle Nova Myers and 1-year-old Haiken Jirachi Myers — and the stepmother of the other two slain children, Shaun Dawson Bumgarner, age 7, and Riley James Bumgarner, age 6. According to the children’s obituary, Oreanna’s husband, Brian David Bumgarner, was the father of all of the boys except Kian. Shaun and Riley’s mother was Brian’s ex-wife Raven Danell Frisbie Bumgarner.
All five of the children were shot with the same .410 gauge single-shot shotgun with which Oreanna Myers ended her own life, Sloan said. The weapon was recovered near Myers’ body.
A suicide note that included her confession to the murders of the children was among three documents found by investigators in a plastic zip-sealed storage bag that Myers had duct-taped to the family’s vehicle. Also in the bag were Myers’ will and instructions on how to contact her husband, her mother and Raven Bumgarner.
“This is no one’s fault but my own,” Myers wrote in the confession. “My demons took over me.”
To her husband, she wrote, “I am so sorry, Brian. I am so sorry for my evil crimes.”
She also wrote, “I am sorry I failed you. I am sorry I was not strong enough.”
Sloan said the investigation found that there had been tension between the couple over Bumgarner’s absence from the household on weekdays. A traffic accident that occurred around 10 days before the Dec. 8 incident had sidelined the family’s lone working vehicle, meaning that Bumgarner had to stay at his father’s home during the week in order to catch a ride to work with his brother.
In text messages reviewed by investigators, Myers expressed her dismay that Bumgarner was only home with her on weekends. “You’re choosing money over (me),” she texted, warning, “Once I go, there is no replacing me.”
Bumgarner answered her by texting that he had to work to get the money to pay the family’s bills and buy groceries for them.
Myers also texted, “I beg and cry for help, and never do I get it.”
Sloan said in other texts reviewed by investigators the couple expressed their affection for one another. By no means were all of the texts focused on the conflict, he said.
The sheriff said, despite the “disturbing and troubling content” of several of Myers’ text messages and the “horrific nature” of the murder-suicide on Dec. 8, investigators found no evidence that the woman had ever been treated for or diagnosed with any sort of mental illness.
While the case is considered closed, Sloan said he is still awaiting some toxicology reports. In addition, the children’s remains have not yet been returned to the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office from the University of Tennessee’s Anthropology Department, which was also involved in the investigation.
Others participating in an investigation that Greenbrier County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick I. Via termed “painstaking and traumatic” included various fire departments and EMS units, the state Fire Marshal’s Office, Marshall University’s Forensic Science Department, the West Virginia State Police and the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office, which was the lead agency.
Via praised the “exemplary conduct” of all of the first responders who spent many hours combing through what was left of the house at 611 Flynn Creek Road to ensure the recovery of all of the children’s remains.
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