Accused teen in slaying of father, half-sister cites history of family abuse, violence

Father, half-sister slain in home near Abita Springs

The picture of Jacob Eli Middleton Jr. that appeared in a 2008 newsletter showed a smiling, bright-eyed 11-year old who, according to the article, was excited about moving into the house in St. Tammany Parish being built for the family by Habitat for Humanity.

On Monday, that same house was the scene of a double homicide, and Middleton, now 17, was booked Tuesday with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his father, Jacob Middleton Sr., and his 2-year-old half-sister, Makayla Christine Middleton.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office said the youth, who is being held without bond, has confessed to the shootings.

“He indicated that his actions were the result of, among other things, his hatred of his father for what he claimed was years of abuse and family violence,’’ the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

A spokeswoman at the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services said the agency would not confirm or deny whether it ever investigated the Middleton family.

The bodies were discovered Monday morning by the girl’s mother, who called the Sheriff’s Office, according to spokesman George Bonnett. The woman was not married to the elder Jacob Middleton and does not live at the home, Bonnett said. The child was visiting her father at the time of the slayings, he said.

Both victims were shot in the head, according to the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office. The time of death has not been made public.

The suspect’s address is listed as 1601 Haring Road, Metairie. A family friend who answered the phone at that house said Jacob Middleton Jr. lived there with his mother, Alina Fernandez Middleton, and her parents.

Alina Middleton did not return a call seeking comment. However, court records show that the relationship between her and her ex-husband, which fell apart soon after they moved into the St. Tammany house, was a rocky one.

According to St. Tammany Parish court records, the couple divorced in 2010 after living apart since 2009. Records from that time show a different address for her then-husband.

She filed for a protective order before her divorce, alleging that her husband had slapped, choked, shoved and threatened her. She also accused her husband of trying to manipulate her through their son. Documents from 2010 indicate that the father had custody of their son, but it is not clear how long that arrangement lasted.

On his Facebook page, the younger Middleton praised marijuana and alcohol and made crude references to women. Few references to family members appear, but in November 2011 he posted an expletive-riddled post about his parents that ended with a quote from a Lil Wayne lyric: “Let ’em die.’’

An entry dated Aug. 8, 2011, mentions that he had started his freshman year in Operation Jumpstart, an alternative school in St. Tammany Parish for students who have been expelled. Ten days later, he posted: “This is the second week of school and I already got racamended for exspellsion ahahaha, i love jumpstart.’’

A status update that October said: “Jus moved bac to tha south shore finally.”

His Facebook page also mentions a stint at a National Guard Youth Challenge Program, a residential military-school-type program for at-risk youth. He lists himself as a 2012 graduate of the program.

Casey Parker, a Kenner resident, said she hung out with Middleton frequently a few years ago.

“We called him ‘Sunshine,’ ” she said. “He was always fun.”

Parker, 18, said she had never met Middleton’s mother but had frequently been around his father. “He and his dad were always cool,” she said.

Parker and Middleton had become less close over the last few years, she said. She had seen him a couple of times in the past month or so, but things had changed.

He was selling marijuana, for one thing, she said.

“Lately he had been acting kind of funny, like real violent,” she said. Nevertheless, she was “absolutely shocked” when she heard that he had been jailed in the killing of his half-sister and father.

St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain commended investigators and deputies who he said worked through the night to solve the case.

“Any time a crime such as this occurs with such a young victim, it makes us want to hold onto our own children and remember the blessings of family,’’ Strain said in a statement. “These crimes defy explanation or logic, but we will remember those who were lost in this senseless tragedy and pray for those they leave behind,” he said.