FORT WORTH, Texas — A three-year-old girl whose father killed her mother and two siblings before committing suicide will live temporarily with an aunt, a judge ruled Friday.
Ariana Jackson also will receive counseling as she lives with her maternal aunt and her husband, Associate Judge Ellen Smith said during a brief hearing in juvenile court.
The little girl has been in foster care the past two weeks, after her father dropped her off at an Arlington church where one of his relatives works and said he had killed his wife.
Arthur Jackson, 32, had shot his estranged wife, Lisa Ford Jackson, 36, and her two children — Jaelyn Ford, 13, and Tyson Adams, 7 — in their Fort Worth home the morning of Oct. 12. Police say Ariana, who was covered in blood but uninjured when she was taken to the church, probably witnessed the triple slaying.
After dropping off Ariana, Jackson drove to a relative's home in Arlington and parked in the driveway, where police found him and surrounded his car.
During the nearly seven-hour standoff, police talked to Jackson over a cell phone and loudspeaker, and he sometimes put a gun to his head, authorities said.
But later that night he suddenly drove around the police cars and an armored vehicle and fled the neighborhood, leading authorities on a high-speed chase that ended when he drove into a lake and shot himself in the head.
Laura Pruitt said Friday she was "overjoyed" to have custody of her niece and said it would help ease the pain of losing her sister, Jaelyn and Tyson. Pruitt said she and her sister's family had always been close, spending birthdays and holidays together.
"It will be good to get her home so she can get all the love she needs," Pruitt told The Associated Press after the hearing.
Child Protective Services had recommended Ariana live with Pruitt and her husband in East Texas after doing a home study, agency spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said. A follow-up hearing will be held in about 60 days.
Assistant District Attorney James Teel said counseling in the form of play therapy was important for Ariana.
"What did she see? What is she willing to talk about?" Teel said after the hearing. "What effect it's had on her, you may not know for some time."