365 Days of Texas True Crime: Survivor
Vera Kinsey had five children with her husband, Fred Milton Kinsey, and had given birth to a sixth at a Fort Worth Maternity home in July of 1961. She and Fred had been married for 20 years but were divorced on July 6th. Mrs. Kinsey had expected, however, to come home to a reconciliation with her husband.
Mrs. Kinsey spoke to her children on Sunday night, her oldest son had said that her ex-husband asked if she was bringing the baby home with her, “Daddy said he would give every penny he has to have that baby”, Mrs. Kinsey quoted the boy as saying.
She had put the baby up for adoptions because of financial difficulties and wondered if that was what caused the break.
Fred Milton Kinsey was at his farm home on July 23rd, 1961 when he got the news that his sixth child was born and doing well but would not be coming home to him. His baby was given up for adoption right after birth. He and the baby’s mother had just gotten divorced on July 6th. Very Kinsey and Fred Milton had been married for 20 years and five other children together already.
Vera Kinsey spoke to her children on Sunday night. She had five children and had just given birth to a sixth. She was supposed to be heading back home on Monday or Tuesday, to what she thought would be a reconciliation with her husband. Technically Fred was her ex-husband. Vera and Fred Kinsey were married on June 28th, 1941 in Martin County Texas. They had been married for twenty years but on July 6th they had gotten a divorce. As she spoke to her oldest son, J.D., on that Sunday night she said J.D. said that her ex-husband had asked if she was bringing the baby home with her, according to her son he told his mother “Daddy said he would give every penny he has to have that baby”. Unfortunately due to financial difficulties, the baby was already given up for adoption.
It was at the Fort Worth maternity hospital that she was given the news the very next day that her ex-husband had shot all five of her children. She had to be sedated at the hospital.
During his marriage to Vera, Fred had been admitted to the Big Spring State Hospital. It was back in November of 1956, five years before the incident. The reasons behind his admittance were not disclosed but in all the articles that would follow the tragedy on the farm that day, Mr. Kinsey was always referred to as a “former mental hospital patient”.
This is just my personal opinion/observance but I have noticed when especially heinous crimes like this are committed by seemingly normal people, in the reporting of such crimes there always seems to be some kind of attributing factor attached to the person responsible, as if to put the general public at ease in a way. What I mean is when I read about horrible things like this, the person responsible is often given a sort of “piggy back” descriptor to separate them from all the people reading. When you read about a guy who had been married for 20 years that had five children and was just a hard working farmer that one day just up and shoots all his kids, it’s too much to process thinking about how that family is just like any other family….and if that can happen to them, does that mean it could happen to us? When the addition of that “piggy back” is attached to the seemingly normal person responsible, it separates them from us, in a way that makes us feel more comfortable about what we’re reading. We kind of go, “Ok, we’re good, that family isn’t just like ours so there’s no way something like that could happen to us”….
Sorry to take this random break from the story but I just couldn’t help but wonder why it was in the paper every time a story was printed that this man was a “former mental health patient” even though they had no idea why he was a patient. I mean I get it, I’m sure whatever mental health problems he had, surely could have and likely did, attribute to what he did, it just seemed a little premature to throw that in there without knowing if it truly had anything to do with what happened. What if he had suffered the loss of someone he was really close to like a parent and became despondent, in a way that his family didn’t know how to help him so they did what they thought was the appropriate thing for 1961 and had him admitted to a mental hospital? I’m not saying that is what happened because I don’t know. I’m just saying mental health problems were and still are not always dealt with properly and stigmatized in a very negative way. Again, I’m not saying that is what was done here I’m just thinking out loud…or out type…you know what I mean.
It was a tough time for the Kinsey’s I’m sure. Five kids, all under the age of 17, is a lot of kids. That’s seven mouths to feed at home and all on the earnings of a farmer. Mr. Kinsey was likely feeling so much pressure to provide for his family, especially since his recently divorced wife had just given birth to their sixth child. Based on what the oldest son told his mother, about his father wanting the baby brought home, it seems like he loved his family, he just didn’t know how he was going to take care of everyone.
After Mrs. Kinsey spoke with her children on Sunday night, it appears that Mr. Kinsey waited until they were all in bed asleep, before he walked around the five bedroom home, shooting all of his children, one by one. Jay Kinsey, 8, and Lillie, 7, were shot in the heart as they slept in a bed in the living room. J.D. Kinsey, 17, and Johnny Kinsey, 13, were found in a back bedroom. J.D. was shot once in the heart like the younger two, but Johnny had been shot five times in the chest. It could be that after his older brother was shot in the same bed, 13 year old Johnny woke up and possibly tried to get away. Louise Kinsey, 15 years old, was shot in the abdomen but she somehow managed to make it out of a window. After he shot all his children, Fred Milton Kinsey sat down in a chair and shot himself in the head.
The teenager then ran, in the dark, 2 ½ miles through muddy fields to a neighbor’s home. Mrs. Lena Jacobs and her son, Travis, 17, were awakened sometime after 2 a.m. to Louise knocking, franticly on their front door. She told them she had been shot and when Mrs. Jacobs asked who did it the girl said, “My daddy, and I think he shot the boys.” She later said that she had been woken up by a noise to her father standing over her holding a gun. He said “It’s too late, Louise. It’s too late”, and then shot her. After her father shot her in the abdomen Louise said she cried “Daddy, it isn’t fair,” and was then somehow able to make it out a window before she could be shot again.
Mrs. Kinsey rushed home just in time to see her daughter before she went in for surgery.
A note was found believed to have been written by Mr. Kinsey that said, “The kids have to go. They will have a better home. Mother is coming”, much of the note was illegible but the letter also said “We couldn’t get help”.
As she waited for the ambulance at the neighbors house, although she remained calm, she commented “I hope they hurry. I don’t think I’m going to make it.”
She did make it, however, but after being admitted to the hospital with a bullet wound that passed through her left lower chest, just below her heart, her condition started to dip. Hospital officials reported that she was in critical condition. She was fighting an infection caused by the .22 caliber slug that passed through her body and ripped through her colon. Louise hadn’t been told of the deaths of her siblings and her father when she slipped into uncontionness. Her conditioned worsened and after being unconscious for two days she died on Friday, the 28th of July, 1961, at 10:35 p.m. She was buried next to her sister, three brothers and father at Fairview cemetery in Midland, Tx.
Vera Beatrice (Kinsey) Ervin died at the age of 83, on October 15th, 2006. She and I share the same birthday, June 30th.