Stepson: WV man angry, agitated before killing 4
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — About a week before Jody Hunt killed his ex-girlfriend, two of her lovers, and his top competitor in cold blood, it was apparent his anger had already started to build.
Hunt’s stepson Tristan Bird said he and a friend were pulled up to the drive-thru window at a Taco Bell when the car they were driving broke down. Hunt’s towing company, J&J Towing and Repair, was less than a mile away, and Bird knew Hunt wouldn’t charge them, so he gave him a call.
When Hunt showed up about 20 minutes later, Bird said he knew something was wrong.
“When he got there, he seemed agitated,” Bird said. “He seemed antsy. He was acting different. And he was acting really angry, but in a subtle way.”
Bird, 19, lived with Hunt for five years while Hunt and Bird’s mother, Lisa Sabo, were married. He spoke to The Associated Press from the home where Hunt lived until 2012.
On the day Hunt towed his stepson’s car, he was also on his phone constantly, Bird said.
“He kept saying, ‘Let’s see who I can piss off,’” Bird said. “I said, ‘Jody, don’t do anything stupid.’”
“He said, ‘Yeah, Sharon broke up with me. She cheated on me.’”
Hunt was referring to Sharon Kay Berkshire, whom Hunt would eventually kill at a home near Cheat Lake.
“He said, ‘I’m not afraid to go back to prison,’” Bird said. “At that point I knew something was up.”
But even then, neither Bird nor anyone close to Hunt thought he was capable of killing four people and then committing suicide.
Posting a message to Facebook as authorities hunted him down after the rampage, Jody Lee Hunt said he wanted to see that his victims “received their fair pay of hurt.”
“My actions were not right nor were the actions of those who tried to tear me down and take from me,” Hunt wrote in the lengthy Facebook post before committing suicide.
The shootings began Monday morning with Hunt settling a work-related grudge: For the past couple of months, he had been complaining to county officials that towing operators, including his rival Doug Brady, had been poaching jobs, Monongalia County commissioner Tom Bloom said.
Police said Hunt drove over to Doug’s Towing and shot Brady in the head twice while he was working in his garage.
That set off what would become about a 12-hour manhunt for the 39-year-old Hunt and his black 2011 Ford F-150, leaving the city on edge and police miles behind.
Hunt next drove next to a home the 39-year-old Berkshire was renting with her new boyfriend, Michael David Frum, 28, Monongalia County Sheriff Kenneth “Al” Kisner said.
Frum and Berkshire had been dating for a few months, and at one point, Frum may have taunted Hunt with a text message. Frum was found shot to death inside the home, and Berkshire, shot twice, was discovered outside, perhaps dying as she tried to escape.
“Having a man text u to say I’m with her and u are stuck without her is not a game. Games hurt people’s hearts. Games don’t solve anything,” Hunt wrote.
Hunt then drove back across town and killed his business partner and cousin Jody Taylor, who also may have been romantically involved with Berkshire at some point, authorities said.
“I did not chose (sic) to have the love of my life to go behind my back and sleep with several guys as she came home to lay her head on my shoulder to say goodnight I love you,” Hunt wrote.
The manhunt finally ended Monday night when his body was found in the pickup in some woods.
Hunt and Berkshire had a rocky two-year relationship, the sheriff said.
She filed a restraining order against him late last year, but dropped it two weeks later when things improved, according to court documents. She took out a second restraining order on Oct. 26, then terminated that one as well about two weeks later after moving in with Frum.
Hunt’s stepson described him as a complicated man, someone who was “emotional, hurt, depressed all the time, and happy occasionally.”
“He was not a monster,” Bird said. “He was always there for me. But of course, none of these people deserved to die. There’s no excuse for what he did. I can’t even fathom why he would do this.”
Hunt had criminal convictions in three states.
In 1994, he was sentenced to probation in Pennsylvania for trespassing and theft. Then in 1999, he was twice charged with abducting an earlier girlfriend.
In Winchester, Virginia, he held this estranged girlfriend hostage for hours at gunpoint in an auto parts factory before he surrendered. She was pregnant with his child at the time. He was sentenced to three years in prison, served concurrently with a five-year sentence for wanton endangerment in West Virginia.
In 2006, Hunt was ordered to pay more than $12,000 in back child support, and by March 2009, that had been paid in full, court records show.
Hunt was not allowed to own a gun under West Virginia law. Authorities were not sure where he got the handgun he used Monday, nor were they certain that the same gun was used in all the shootings.
Hunt ended his Facebook confession with a plea for understanding — and for his pets.
“I except (sic) my actions were wrong but in my eyes just. So I will leave this world as others did. May your saddened hearts be replaced with hate for me.
“Please take care of my dogs.”
Associated Press Writer John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia, contributed to this report.