WALLER, Texas – A 22-year-old Waller man was indicted Wednesday on three counts of capital murder in the shooting deaths of his mother, father and brother.
Investigators say Trey Sesler confessed to killing his family in a tearful jailhouse interview on March 22, 2012.
The bodies of Lawton, Rhonda and Mark Sesler were found in their home on March 20. Trey Sesler was arrested at a friend’s house near Magnolia later that evening.
Investigators have said Trey Sesler was planning a Columbine-style mass shooting and purportedly killed his family so they wouldn’t be ashamed of him.
Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith said Sesler had some tension with his family – particularly his father, a 5th-grade teacher in Cy-Fair ISD – but nothing out of the ordinary.
"He had certainly had issues in the past with his father … He’s a 22-year-old living at home, doesn’t have a real job and things like that – basics that can cause family conflicts," Smith said.
Sesler’s mother was employed at The Waller Times for six years. Coworkers said they had no indication of problems at home.
In a statement released by the paper Wednesday, coworkers said Rhonda Sesler loved her family.
"She talked about her husband and her two sons regularly and with complete love and transparency. If something were hiding in the background regarding her family, you would have never known it. We didn’t. We worked with her almost every day for four years. We could never have suspected Rhonda’s fate would be in the hands of one of her children; yet it apparently was."
Authorities have called Trey Sesler a "classic example" of a killer who starts with small crimes – like killing animals, shooting at buildings and lighting fires – and builds up to the unthinkable.
"It’s a classic example that we’ve seen in our past, in our careers and training – he started as a young person killing pets and some of his own animals that were given to him. He progressed to being able to get weapons and started shooting at buildings. Then he started setting a few fires. It’s a progression that, unfortunately, we’ve seen," Smith said.
Trey Sesler has been held in the Waller County Jail on suicide watch since his arrest. Smith said the troubled man considered himself a loner and was involved in some drug use prior to the killings.
He often posted videos of himself shooting weapons and reviewing anime cartoons online.
"He’s had a massive amount of time studying violence, acting it out, just like on Facebook. And I think that built up, and it certainly started with these other minor offenses that he’s committed. I think he was building himself up," Smith said.
Smith said Sesler researched mass shootings and was looking at everything from schools to grocery stores to other places where crowds might gather – wherever would have the biggest impact.
He also reportedly studied serial killers and graded their work.
Investigators said Sesler had a gun on him and one in his car when he was taken into custody, and they’ve found other weapons in subsequent searches of his grandmother’s Hempstead home and his parents’ house in Waller.
Smith said Sesler had stockpiled about a half-dozen guns and a considerable amount of ammunition.
Since he’s been behind bars, Smith said Sesler has shown the full range of emotions.
"His demeanor is quiet. I don’t want to use the word ‘pleasant,’ because there’s nothing pleasant about this. But respectful, cooperative the whole time," Smith said.
Still, investigators – and residents of Waller County – can only guess as to why Sesler might have been motivated to kill.
"This act of violence that he actually committed – was that the end of it? Did that stop it? Did that satisfy his need? Things like that will never be known," Smith said. "This wasn’t a fight over a TV show or what he ate for supper – this was something that built up in this guy’s head over a significant amount of time."
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