Neighbors in a northwestern Tennessee community are questioning why a teenage girl fatally shot by the father accused of abusing her was placed with a foster family just two doors down.
Christopher Milburn, 34, killed the 15-year-old, her foster father and wounded her foster mother before taking his own life Sunday, authorities said.
Neighbor Frank Hipps said Milburn was good friends with Todd Randolph, the 46-year-old foster father, and had worked for him in the past. Hipps, who had known both men for about eight years, said he didn’t know the details of the abuse allegations but questioned why the girl had been placed so close.
“That kid shouldn’t have been in that house,” he said. “This might have been preventable if she had been placed with foster parents out of the community.”
Neither Dyersburg police nor child services agency spokesman Rob Johnson would elaborate on the abuse allegations other than to say the investigation began last week.
The girl, whose name was not released, had been staying with Todd and Susan Randolph while the state Department of Children’s Services investigated the abuse claim, Dyersburg Police Capt. Steve Isbell said. Susan Randolph was released from a Memphis hospital Monday.
Frank Hipps’ wife, Tammy, said the 15-year-old was Milburn’s daughter by a previous relationship. He was married and the couple had two younger daughters. The girl’s mother was living out of state and police were waiting for her to arrive before releasing the girl’s name, Isbell said.
Police found the teenager and Todd Randolph dead at the Randolph home and Milburn about a block away, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Charles Wootton, 71, who lives across the street from the Randolphs, said he heard five pops. He looked out the window and saw Randolph on the ground near the mailbox.
“My wife opened the door and walked out and seen the blood. That’s when I called 911,” he said.
Wootton said neighbors started to gather at the Randolphs’ house and a nurse performed CPR on Todd Randolph, who had been shot through the neck. Wootton said when he first looked at Susan Randolph, he thought she was dead, too.
“She told me who did it,” Wootton said.
The Randolphs have two young children who were at their grandparents’ house during the shootings, Wootton said.
Wootton had moved to the neighborhood about two weeks ago, and Todd Randolph had mowed his yard several times.
“The people around here are just about the friendliest you’ve ever met,” said Wootton. “I don’t know what happened to that guy.”
Isbell said Milburn had no criminal record in Dyersburg, a city of approximately 18,000 people about 70 miles northeast of Memphis.
Tammy Hipps said Milburn worked as a counselor at the McDowell Center for Children, which helps at-risk and troubled children.
The shootings marked the second domestic killing rampage in Tennessee in just over two weeks.
Jacob Levi Shaffer of Fayetteville, a small town near the Alabama border about 70 miles west of Chattanooga, is accused of fatally stabbing his estranged wife, three members of her family and a neighbor boy to death on July 18. He also is accused of beating an acquaintance to death in nearby Huntsville, Ala.