Lone survivor of murder-suicide: 'He made me hold them when he killed them'


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Apr 22, 2007
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The lone survivor of a murderous rampage in Jacksonville's Oceanway neighborhood Friday has a message she wants to deliver. Speaking from her hospital bed through her mother, Megan Hiatt wants to get the word out about domestic violence.

Megan Hiatt, 22, lost her five-month-old twins, Hayden Rose and Kayden Reese Hiatt, and her father, Travis James Hiatt, 49, in a murder-suicide Friday afternoon. The shooter, Gawain Rushane Wilson, 28, shot and killed himself after the rampage.

Hiatt was rushed to UF Health Jacksonville where she's still recovering. Her mother, Melissa Bateh, spoke with First Coast News at Hiatt's request

"We all have our free agents. We have our choices and we make those choices and I don't think that's God's role in making choices. But God's hand was in every bit of this," Bateh told First Coast News.

"He gave Megan the strength to drag her body across the room. She had to crawl through her babies' blood, then through the shooter's blood, and to her dad to hear his last words. He wanted her to tell her brother that he was the best son ever and he loved him. That was God's hand."

"God told neighbors to hear the shooting and call, God's hand was holding Megan's until medical help got there. God helped me hold the steering wheel," Bateh said.

Still, questions surrounding the shooting linger. So many people are wondering, how can you shoot your own babies?

"None of us knows. No one knows that. And this goes negative, but on some level, he was a victim," said Bateh.

"I wish he felt there were other options, but I can't hate him. I can't. I know a mother lost a son, and she loved him. Only son and she loved him," she said.

Bateh thinks five bullets struck her daughter. More wrenching still, Hiatt told her mother, Wilson forced her to hold her twins while he shot and killed them. "He wanted to destroy her world. He wanted her to watch it be destroyed," she recalled.

"'Mama, he killed them. He killed them in my arms. He made me hold them when he killed them. He made me watch.' I knew, I didn't ... I couldn't imagine someone doing that, holding your own children while someone kills them," said Bateh.

Hiatt and her family loved Hayden and Kayden. "We never called them Hayden and Kayden. We called them Reese and Rose. Twins' names that rhyme are confusing. Give the bottle to who?"

Bateh said Hiatt, who has a twin brother, Tyler, was thrilled about having twin girls. "Oh, she was ecstatic about having the girls. Reese we called 'Chunky Monkey' and Rose 'Little Bit.'"

Even before Friday's shooting, though, Bateh was troubled by her daughter's relationship. "As a parent, you know. I knew in my gut their relationship was not healthy."

There were warning signs, Bateh said.

At times, he grabbed her, though he never struck her, Hiatt told her mother. When he lost it, he would break things -- candles, electronics, other household items.

He was controlling -- he bought her a car, but wouldn't let her use it unless he approved. "Oh gosh, he would take her phone away."

And in that relationship, even words were weapons, Bateh said. "'You're fat.' She'd just given birth to twins."

"The babies were three days old and he would ask, 'When are you going to start losing weight?' She hadn't even left the NICU."

But Megan told her mother, she wanted to keep the family together. "She felt like her girls deserved a family, and too many people give up," Bateh told First Coast News.

And now to cope, Bateh said, it's the grace of God. "Those precious little ones are just angels, so special they didn't have to live very long on this Earth."

A GoFundMe account has been set up for the Hiatt family. If you'd like to help, click here.


If you or someone you love feels they may be the victim of any kind of domestic abuse, be it verbal or physical, the most important thing is to get help.

There are warning signs to watch out for as well - things to be aware of that could lead to abuse.

Here is a list of warning signs and places to get help:

Warning signs. The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FDAVS) says these are warning signs of domestic violence:

•Hurting you physically in any way
•Using your children against you
•Calling you names and hurting you emotionally
•Harming your pets
•Acting with extreme jealousy and possessiveness
•Isolating you from family and friends
•Threatening to commit suicide or to kill you
•Controlling your money
•Withholding medical help
•Stalking you
•Demanding sex or unwanted sex practices
•Hiding assistive devices
•Minimizing the destructive behavior
•Threatening to 'out' you if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered
•Controlling you with 'that certain look in his eyes' or certain gestures

The most important thing to remember is the help exists for the safety of you and your loved ones.

Safety tips. It is suggested that anyone living with a domestic abuser, that you follow these safety tips:

Safety tips. It is suggested that anyone living with a domestic abuser, that you follow these safety tips:

•Identify a safe place to go if an argument occurs - avoid rooms with no exits (bathroom) or rooms with weapons (kitchen)
•Calls for assistance should be made from phones in safe locations
•If you use email or instant messaging, use a computer and an account your abuser does not know about, or use a more private computer at a trusted friend's house, a library or an internet cafe
•If someone is threatening you or your children, take the threats seriously
•Keep important items in a bag with someone you trust. Items include your identification papers/cards, keys, cell phone, bank statements, money, medicine, pictures of the family that include the abuser, proof of income, financial statements, visas, passports, green cards, insurance documents, birth certificates for you and your children, your partner's personal information including date of birth, social security number, place of employment, license plate number
•Change your shopping habits by choosing different grocery stores, retail outlets, etc. and change your travel routes to and from the stores
•Change your travel routes to work, school, or places you travel to on a regular basis
•Request confidentiality when working with agencies and religious organizations
•Establish a code word so that family, trusted friends, teachers, or co-workers know when to call for help
•Contact your local certified domestic violence center for assistance with safety planning

Awful ....Not sure I understand the God bit crime like this don't sell God to me