Brian Massey and his aunt Dorothy Delgado stood together at the Hillsdale Cemetery on Sept. 24 — both seeking strength for what they knew would be a difficult experience the next day.
The gravestones at their feet belonged to Brian’s mother, Jean Ann Yackle, and his sisters, Tiffany Dawn Massey, 11, and Tamara Jo Massey, 10.
On Halloween night in 1984, nearly 33 years ago, Brian watched his 26-year-old new stepfather David L. Andrews brutally murder his mother and two sisters by stabbing them to death inside their Wagstaff home.
It is still considered by local law enforcement officers and community members to be one of the grisliest murders in Miami County history.
Brian, like he has done countless times since that night, talked with his mother during his recent visit to the cemetery. This time was different, though.
This time he was asking for the strength to stand before Kansas Parole Board officials the next day and tell his story in the hope that Andrews would not be released.
Delgado, who drove more than 700 miles from Texas for the parole public comment session, also was seeking strength during the visit to the cemetery. She said she could feel the presence of her sister-in-law, who held her hand when she had her first child and was one of her best friends before the murders.
“She told me to be strong,” Delgado said of her conversation with Jean Ann at the cemetery. “She told me that she lives with me in my heart.”
Delgado said when she left the cemetery she told Jean Ann and the girls to hop into her truck and be with her throughout the next day.
“I felt so much better when I left that graveyard,” Delgado said.
Remembering a nightmare
Brian and his aunt were not alone Sept. 25 when they prepared to speak at the parole public comment session held at the Kansas City, Kan., City Hall. They were joined by several family members, as well as childhood friends of Tiffany and Tamara.
Retired Miami County Sheriff’s Office deputy Randy Cornelius, who was one of the first to arrive at the murder scene in 1984, also was in attendance.
Cornelius, who had just started his law enforcement career at the time, said he is still haunted by the images of the murder scene, and the parole hearings have forced him to experience that emotion all over again.
“There wasn’t a wall in that house that didn’t have blood on it,” Cornelius said.
It was early in the morning on Nov. 1, 1984, when Cornelius was called to respond to a crime scene in Wagstaff east of Hillsdale. Jean Yackle, 28-year-old mother of three, was found in the living room by the front door, lying in a pool of blood. Multiple stab wounds were clearly visible on her lifeless body.
Down the hall and inside a bedroom, Cornelius discovered an even more horrendous sight. Crammed into the corner of the room between a bed and the wall, the lifeless bodies of 11-year-old Tiffany Dawn Massey and 10-year-old Tamara Jo Massey were found covered in blood and knife wounds.
Andrews and 8-year-old Brian Massey were nowhere to be found. It didn’t take long to trace the murders back to Andrews, who later admitted to taking Brian to Andrews’ sister’s house in Port Huron, Mich. After shooting himself in an attempted suicide, Andrews was taken into custody by Michigan law enforcement officials and taken to a Michigan hospital under guard.
Brian was found alive inside the sister’s house, and he was taken back to Miami County on Nov. 4, 1984, in the custody of his grandparents, Roy and Joyce Yackle.
Andrews was extradited to Miami County in December 1984, and he was charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Kidnapping and sodomy charges soon followed resulting from Andrews taking Brian from the home after the murder and allegedly sodomizing him several times on their two-day trip to Michigan.
Despite the abundance of hard evidence in the case, the prosecution, led by then Miami County Attorney David Heger, did face some roadblocks, including the fact that the murder weapon was never found and Brian likely would have had to testify during a jury trial.
Andrews’ mental status also was questioned, which could have made it difficult for the prosecution to prove premeditation as required for first-degree murder.
During a week-long interview process in April 1985, two staff members of the Menniger Foundation in Topeka talked to Andrews about his past and why he committed the crime.
Andrews, who had a violent history including once stabbing his brother in a drunken rage, said he was drinking heavily that night. Although he said he remembered grabbing a knife and hearing lots of screaming, he didn’t remember the actual stabbings.
On May 13, 1985, which was the morning jury selection was scheduled to begin, a plea deal was announced. Andrews pleaded guilty in exchange for the dropping of the kidnapping and sodomy charges and the reduction in the primary charge to three counts of second-degree murder.
In June 1985, he was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for each second-degree murder conviction, with the sentences to run consecutively, making his total sentence reach 45 years.
Heger, who is now the Miami County counselor, said the case may have been handled differently today thanks to advances in forensic science and new policies regarding questioning children who have gone through traumatic experiences.
Despite all of the circumstantial evidence, Heger said they never were able to find any of Andrews’ blood at the crime scene, despite the fact that he sliced his hand during the attack. Heger believes current forensic equipment and techniques would be able to find the DNA, which would be valuable evidence during a trial.
Although Andrews originally would not have been eligible for parole for 30 years, changes in Kansas statute now allow parole eligibility after 50 percent of a sentence has been served, which is why Andrews was first up for parole in 2007.
Several of the people who spoke at the hearing in 2007, including Brian Massey and Cornelius, were back to speak again during the public comment session Sept. 25. They are hoping for a similar result. In 2007, officials denied parole and put off the next hearing for 10 years, which was the maximum possible.
There was about a dozen people in attendance at the public comment session Sept. 25 to speak against Andrews, and no one spoke in favor of granting parole.
Kathy Mayer said Tiffany Dawn Massey was her childhood best friend, and they shared the same birthday.
“Tiffany would come over to my house almost everyday,” Mayer said. “She was more than a best friend, she was my sister.”
Mayer said she lives with survivor’s guilt because Tiffany had asked to spend the night at her house on that fateful Halloween in 1984, but Mayer already had other plans.
“I had nightmares for over a year,” Mayer said. “If you let that monster out of jail on good behavior, I guarantee you he will kill again.”
Jason Browning said he was Tammy Jo Massey’s classmate, and he still gets emotional when thinking about the murders, especially since he now has twin boys in the fourth grade.
“Tammy was the sweetest girl,” Browning said. “I’ll never forget her red cheeks and smile.”
Robert Stuteville said Jean Ann was his cousin and best friend, and he doesn’t understand how parole is even being considered after what Andrews did.
“I can’t believe that somebody who did something this horrible can be eligible to get out,” Stuteville said.
Delgado talked about how close she was with her sister-in-law, and she urged the parole officials to not let Andrews out.
“I will never forgive him,” she said. “He’s going to have to take that to God.”
Brian Massey spoke for the longest time, as he spent nearly two hours describing in detail the relationship between his mother and Andrews, how Andrews sexually and emotionally abused him, and how Andrews committed the murders on that Halloween night.
He said Andrews and his mother got into an argument, and she kicked him out of the house. He returned later, and the argument turned violent.
Brian said he watched as his mother reached for the phone to call his grandpa, and that’s when Andrews first started stabbing her.
After stabbing her more than 30 times, Andrews went down the hallway to find the sisters, who had ran into their room.
“They knew what was going to happen to them,” Brian said.
After the murders, Brian said Andrews came into his room covered in blood.
“He didn’t have any remorse,” Brian said. “There was only a savage presence about him.”
His words for Brian were brief and chilling: “If you do not listen and obey, I will kill you.”
Brian said he completely shut down emotionally.
“I was put into a situation where I had to survive,” Brian said. “It was all about survival.”
Cornelius said Brian was traumatized after the murders in 1984, and law enforcement officers did not push an in-depth interrogation. Because of that, he now finds it interesting to hear Brian describe the crime years later.
Corenelius said a large amount of blood was found around the phone in the house after the murders, but he never knew the significance of that until he heard Brian’s detailed description during the Sept. 25 comment session. It’s not the first time he’s learned new details about the case.
When Brian spoke during the 2007 public comment session, Cornelius and former Undersheriff Mark Schmidt learned for the first time that Andrews tossed the murder weapon into a dumpster on their way up to Michigan.
During the investigation in 1984, sheriff’s officers had searched the woods behind the murder scene after Andrews said he tossed the weapon there. The butcher knife was never found.
“Every time I hear him tell his story, I learn something new,” Cornelius said.
Cornelius was the last to speak, and he garnered some of the strongest reactions of the parole officials when he displayed pictures of the crime scene pulled from the sheriff’s office case file.
“David Leroy Andrews is a vicious animal,” Cornelius said. “There’s only one place for a vicious animal, and that’s behind bars.”
No official decision was made at the public comment session, but the parole officials took notes throughout the day and said they will use the comments to help make their ultimate decision.
Andrews’ actual parole hearing will take place next month, and if parole is granted, he would be released in November. If Andrews serves his entire sentence, he would be released in 2029, at the age of 71.