USA TODAY, December 16, 2013
Link to video: http://usat.ly/1cn5hcr
By Yamiche Alcindor
OKLAHOMA CITY — Raymond Green doesn’t regret letting his 40-year-old son live at his home, even after his beloved “Danny” allegedly turned the shared space into a crime scene, gunning down the family.
On Aug. 14, Daniel Green, a diagnosed schizophrenic, spared no one as he picked up a semiautomatic handgun and meticulously put bullets in the heads of his mother, sister, 16-year-old niece and 6-month-old nephew, police said. Obsessed with actress Selena Gomez, Green told officers his family was keeping him from his “one true love.”
Raymond Green, who could have been killed had he not been at work that night, doesn’t dwell on his son’s actions. Instead, he puts $50 a week into his son’s Oklahoma County Jail account and prays he will get help. For two decades, Daniel Green’s father tried to get his son committed to mental hospitals, but health officials routinely released him. His father’s continued devotion illustrates the complicated nature of the most common form of mass murders: family homicides.
“What am I supposed to do, kick him out and onto the streets? Let him sleep under a bridge?” Raymond Green, 65, said. “You love your children. You care about your children. You want the best for them, regardless of their mental status.”
Family mass killings make up about half of all mass killings since 2006, according to a USA TODAY database. This year, 56 people died in 13 family mass killings.
When loved ones kill each other, it’s often behind closed doors, over intense emotions, trivial arguments or after a long battle with mental illness.
Mothers have killed their children to start new lives with their boyfriends. Children have taken out their parents and siblings after feeling neglected. Fathers, angry over divorces or ashamed of financial struggles, have annihilated whole generations.
In most cases, the family violence comes as a shock and doesn’t receive the same attention as mass public shootings, said Jack Levin, a sociology and criminology professor at Boston’s Northeastern University.
“You almost never see it coming,” he said. “Most family annihilators are seen as decent, gentle, devoted and dedicated family members.”
The stories are complicated, and those left behind must decide whether to support family members or turn their backs on accused murderers.
Daniel Green’s niece and father have conflicting views about whether the accused murderer was ever violent before August.
According to police, Raymond Green told officers Daniel Green had a history of being violent and “deep down inside,” the father thought his son could murder his family.
Raymond Green insisted to USA TODAY that he never told police his son was violent.
“Danny never verbally or physically threatened anybody,” he said. “Sometimes, he would say, ‘I’m a gangster. I’m a Blood. I’m a Crip. I’m a member of the mafia. I’m a hit man.’ That was about the extent of it.”
Laquana Cizek, 19, told USA TODAY her uncle Daniel Green was regularly drunk and gave his family warning signs. Cizek, who lost her grandmother, mother, sister and brother, also lived in the home and left for college about a month before the murders.
“My uncle Danny threatened us before,” she said, explaining that at least once she had seen her uncle push her grandmother onto a couch.
Another time, Cizek and her sister found a bottle of alcohol with a piece of fabric inside it and thought Green might blow up their home. She said her uncle would often talk about incest and would say that in his past life, he had been with her mother, his sister.
No one feared her uncle, though her mother had planned to move out the week she was killed, Cizek said.
“We tried to stay away from him, but we didn’t ignore him,” she said. “We were like his daughters. He would say he would do anything for us.”
Gerald Grosso, clinical director at Morningside Recovery, a mental health and addiction treatment center in California, understands the father’s decision to stand by his son.
“This sounds like a father that has a good understanding of mental illness,” Grosso said. “It’s not rare. People love their kids, and because of that love, they don’t give up on them.”
Raymond Green keeps photos of his previous happy life in a red cardboard box in the back of his car.
There’s one of his wife with long brown hair staring at a younger Raymond Green. Scrawled on the back of the photo are the words “The Look of Love.” In another photo, a much younger Daniel Green surrounded by family sits laughing at a colorfully decorated Christmas tree.
Looking at the photos keeps him from thinking about what police say happened.
Raymond Green’s wife, Sallie, 57, was shot in her head sometime between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Their daughter, Rebecca Cizek, 34, died after several shots to the head and chest. Her daughter, Katherine, 16, was killed by bullets in her back and head. A single bullet, which came through the forehead, was found lodged in the head of Rebecca Cizek’s baby, Amario Dominguez III.
Raymond Green’s niece discovered the carnage around 10:30 p.m. and called police.
Detectives picked up Raymond Green, who was working as a truck driver during the killings. He last talked to his wife around 8:30 p.m. He reminded her that he had left a chicken teriyaki sub in the refrigerator for her.
Daniel Green, driving his sister’s car, was arrested near Sunny Lane Cemetery, his favorite hangout, his father said. A gun was on the passenger seat.
Police said Daniel Green would not directly say he had murdered his family. He told officials he didn’t remember because he blacked out and it was a blur.
He told officers he was heading to California to be with his “one true love.” Raymond Green says his son was talking about actress Selena Gomez, a woman he had become fixated on in recent years.
Green’s faded blue eyes look straight ahead as he recalls speaking with his jailed son over the phone.
“The very first thing he said when he got a phone call was ‘Dad, tell me they’re lying to me. I couldn’t have done anything like this.’ ”
Green, a tall, thin man with deep wrinkles, shrugs his shoulders. For years, he said, he tried unsuccessfully to get his son committed to a full-time inpatient facility.
John Sharp, a psychiatrist and faculty member at Harvard Medical School, says similar experiences are playing out all over the country. The mental health system exists so people can try to get help for their loved ones, but there’s a catch, he said.
“It takes a strong amount of advocacy,” he said. “It’s our American way which grants people a lot of individual liberties.”
In most cases, people must be a clear danger to themselves or others to be kept in a facility, Sharp said.
In Daniel Green’s case, it took about 18 years for that to happen.
Daniel Green’s schizophrenia began in 1994 when his wife moved out of the couple’s home and took their child, his father said.
Schizophrenia was familiar to the family. Daniel Green’s medicated mother, uncle and eventually institutionalized grandfather also had it. Only Daniel Green’s disease ended in violence, his father said.
Before being diagnosed, Daniel Green was an active student who got good grades, earned a black belt in karate, graduated from high school and became a stocker at a wholesale store, his father said.
Three years after marrying, Daniel Green, struggling with the reality of an impending divorce, tried to burn his house down, Raymond Green said. The incident landed him in a psychiatric center for 30 days. When Daniel’s Green’s time was up, Raymond Green got a call to come get his son who had been formally diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“They thrust him upon me, and from that point on, I’ve been caring for him to the best of my ability,” Raymond Green said. ” He could be talking to you about ‘the corn is growing tall right now,’ and then in a blink of an eye, he would be talking about ‘In the other world, I was Darth Vader.’ ”
During the divorce proceedings, Raymond Green was appointed guardian ad litem for his son, representing him in court because Daniel Green was “mentally ill” and was not “mentally competent to manage his own affairs,” according to records.
It was Dec. 7, 1994, and Raymond Green’s new role would stretch on for years.
Records show that on March 15, 1995, Daniel Green’s wife, Rayanna, was granted a divorce by default judgment and given custody of their 1-year-old daughter, Cassondra Raelynn Green.
Daniel Green has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder.
Raymond Green struggles to deal with his new reality. He is a Vietnam veteran with lingering post-traumatic stress disorder and a cancer survivor who is alone. He avoids the obvious question: What if he had been home?
Instead, he speaks out against a mental health system that he says could have saved his family.
“When I say my prayers at night, I cry out to God and say forgive my son,” Green said. “He knew not what he did.”