‘Bring back the death penalty’: Anguished Facebook posts of father of two children killed

The father of two children killed alongside their mother and best friend at a sleepover has called for the death penalty to be brought back.

Jason Bennett, whose daughter Lacey, 11, son John Paul, 13, and their 35-year-old mother Terri Harris were found dead with Lacey’s friend Connie Gent, 11, shared the comments on Facebook.

The Royal Mail worker reposted a picture from August last year by Tom Bradley, from San Bernardino, California, in the early hours of Tuesday morning calling to reinstate capital punishment.

The message, which was written inside a rainbow heart, said: ‘Bring back the death penalty anybody else have enough balls to post.’

The punishment was used in Britain throughout history until the last one in 1964, before it was officially abolished in 1998.

A survey in 2015 found just 48 per cent backed using it for ‘some crimes’ – down from 54 per cent in 2013 – which was the lowest level since polling began in 1986.

Mr Bennett had earlier rushed from a holiday in Devon to the site of the killings in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, which is near Sheffield but over the Derbyshire border.

He collapsed in tears as he laid flowers for his children at the police cordon around the semi-detached house on Monday night.

Mr Bennett stayed at the scene for more than half-an-hour on Monday, and said he was ‘heartbroken; million pieces; shattered’.

Connie, Lacey, John Paul and Ms Harris were found dead on Sunday morning in the house following the sleepover between best friends Connie and Lacey on Saturday night.

Derbyshire Police said a 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder at the scene and remains in custody, with officers not having any prior contact with those involved.

The authorities had only been called to the scene at 7.30am amid concerns for a man – understood to be the now-arrested suspect – before finding the four victims.

Murder squad detectives are also probing activity at the property at 9.45pm the night before as questions remained over what sparked the killings.

Hundreds of mourners headed to Baker Park, a children’s play area behind Chandos Crescent, at 6.30pm for an emotional vigil to the victims.

The father of two children killed alongside their mother and best friend at a sleepover has called for the death penalty to be brought back

The father of two children killed alongside their mother and best friend at a sleepover has called for the death penalty to be brought back

The father of two children killed alongside their mother and best friend at a sleepover has called for the death penalty to be brought back

Jason Bennett, whose daughter Lacey, 11, son John Paul, 13, and their 35-year-old mother Terri Harris (pictured) were found dead with Lacey's friend Connie, 11, shared the comments on Facebook

Jason Bennett, whose daughter Lacey, 11, son John Paul, 13, and their 35-year-old mother Terri Harris (pictured) were found dead with Lacey's friend Connie, 11, shared the comments on Facebook

Jason Bennett, whose daughter Lacey, 11, son John Paul, 13, and their 35-year-old mother Terri Harris (pictured) were found dead with Lacey’s friend Connie, 11, shared the comments on Facebook

Connie (pictured), Lacey, John Paul and Ms Harris were found dead on Sunday morning in the house following the sleepover between best friends Connie and Lacey on Saturday night

Connie (pictured), Lacey, John Paul and Ms Harris were found dead on Sunday morning in the house following the sleepover between best friends Connie and Lacey on Saturday night

Connie (pictured), Lacey, John Paul and Ms Harris were found dead on Sunday morning in the house following the sleepover between best friends Connie and Lacey on Saturday night

The devastated father of two children found dead alongside their best friend and mother at a semi-detached house

The devastated father of two children found dead alongside their best friend and mother at a semi-detached house

The devastated father of two children found dead alongside their best friend and mother at a semi-detached house

Hundreds of mourners headed to Baker Park, a children's play area behind Chandos Crescent, at 6.30pm for an emotional vigil to the victims

Hundreds of mourners headed to Baker Park, a children's play area behind Chandos Crescent, at 6.30pm for an emotional vigil to the victims

Hundreds of mourners headed to Baker Park, a children’s play area behind Chandos Crescent, at 6.30pm for an emotional vigil to the victims

Men, women and children shed tears as they gathered at the children's playground near the scene of the killings on Monday night

Men, women and children shed tears as they gathered at the children's playground near the scene of the killings on Monday night

Men, women and children shed tears as they gathered at the children’s playground near the scene of the killings on Monday night 

Locals shed a tear as they attend a vigil near to the tragic scene at Chandos Crescent, in Derbyshire, on Monday evening

Locals shed a tear as they attend a vigil near to the tragic scene at Chandos Crescent, in Derbyshire, on Monday evening

Locals shed a tear as they attend a vigil near to the tragic scene at Chandos Crescent, in Derbyshire, on Monday evening

Youngsters put down candles and lit them in memory of the four victims of the horror attack over the weekend near Sheffield

Youngsters put down candles and lit them in memory of the four victims of the horror attack over the weekend near Sheffield

Youngsters put down candles and lit them in memory of the four victims of the horror attack over the weekend near Sheffield

Teddy bears and flowers were laid in tribute to the four victims as the local community started to grieve the horror attack in Derbyshire

Teddy bears and flowers were laid in tribute to the four victims as the local community started to grieve the horror attack in Derbyshire

Teddy bears and flowers were laid in tribute to the four victims as the local community started to grieve the horror attack in Derbyshire

Local pastor David Taylor is pictured at a vigil near to the scene at Chandos Crescent, in Derbyshire, on Monday evening

Local pastor David Taylor is pictured at a vigil near to the scene at Chandos Crescent, in Derbyshire, on Monday evening

Local pastor David Taylor is pictured at a vigil near to the scene at Chandos Crescent, in Derbyshire, on Monday evening

Earlier yesterday Mr Bennett released video tributes to his two children, calling John Paul his ‘mini me’ while sharing footage of him on a playground roundabout.

He said: ‘My heart and soul of my life. You brought me laughter everyday. A classic you this one.

‘I wish I could have been there and saved you to stop all the pain suffered and told you everything will be ok. But now I’ve suffered the worst thing any parent could go through.’

Mr Bennett also posted a video of Lacey walking through woodland, with her described as the ‘apple of my eye’. Mr Bennett added: ‘Watching you grow into a beautiful and caring young lady has made my life.

‘There should have been many many more years watching my flower grow and grow but for now. One day we will meet. Only my kids can mend this broken heart. Xxx’.

Mr Bennett told reporters gathered near the scene yesterday: ‘I can’t believe I’ll never see them again. I just want to hug them and kiss them. I’m heartbroken.’

He wrote earlier on Facebook: ‘I need my babies back. Life will never be the same. My angels. Won’t be long till I’m touching your cheeks, holding you close and kissing your beautiful faces. Only you two can fix me’.

In another post, he said: ‘Absolutely heartbroken my heart into a million pieces. I didn’t protect my beautiful babies enough and now they have been suddenly taken away from me.

‘I’m writing this as I’m lost and broken on a four-hour drive back home having just received heart-breaking news that my beautiful boy John and beautiful daughter Lacey have been taken away from me.’

His parents Debbie and Trevor Bennett also paid tribute to the ‘well mannered’ and ‘beautiful’ youngsters on Monday. They arrived at the scene in Killamarsh to lay flowers in memory of the children.

They described John and Lacey as the ‘most polite kids you’ll ever meet’ and revealed their father had to drive home from his holiday in Devon after finding out the tragic news.

Mrs Bennett said: ‘We found out about tea time yesterday. Their dad was on holiday in Devon and he had to drive home last night knowing he had lost his children.

‘He is absolutely heartbroken. He’ll be blaming himself, there will be the ‘what ifs’. I don’t know how he will come through this.’

Mrs Bennett said both children were football fans and Lacey was a West Ham supporter while John loved Sheffield Wednesday. She added: ‘Lacey was a pink girl, very sparkly. John was into his computers.

‘They were the most well-mannered kids you would want to meet. Always please and thank you, if you ever bought them a present, the first thing they would do is go on Facebook and thank you.’

Jason Bennett, understood to be the father of the two children who were found in the house, paid tribute to them in a number of harrowing posts on social media last night. It is thought his two children are John, 13, and Lacey, 11, and that he was being supported by two friends

Jason Bennett, understood to be the father of the two children who were found in the house, paid tribute to them in a number of harrowing posts on social media last night. It is thought his two children are John, 13, and Lacey, 11, and that he was being supported by two friends

Jason Bennett, understood to be the father of the two children who were found in the house, paid tribute to them in a number of harrowing posts on social media last night. It is thought his two children are John, 13, and Lacey, 11, and that he was being supported by two friends

Image of Terri Harris, the mother of John, 13, and Lacey, 11, found in the house in Derbyshire on Sunday

Image of Terri Harris, the mother of John, 13, and Lacey, 11, found in the house in Derbyshire on Sunday

Image of Terri Harris, the mother of John, 13, and Lacey, 11, found in the house in Derbyshire on Sunday

Connie Gent, 11, was at a sleepover the night before she was found dead alongside friend Lacey, John and Terri Harris

Connie Gent, 11, was at a sleepover the night before she was found dead alongside friend Lacey, John and Terri Harris

Connie Gent, 11, was at a sleepover the night before she was found dead alongside friend Lacey, John and Terri Harris

John, 13, and Lacey, 11, found in the house alongside their mother Terri Harris in the property on Sunday morning by police

John, 13, and Lacey, 11, found in the house alongside their mother Terri Harris in the property on Sunday morning by police

John, 13, and Lacey, 11, found in the house alongside their mother Terri Harris in the property on Sunday morning by police

It is thought his two children are John (pictured), 13, and Lacy, 11

It is thought his two children are John (pictured), 13, and Lacy, 11

It is thought his two children are John, 13, and Lacey, 11 (pictured)

It is thought his two children are John, 13, and Lacey, 11 (pictured)

Two children John (left), 13, and Lacey, 11 (right) were found dead in the house alongside Ms Harris and Connie Gent, 11

John is affectionately called Mr Bennett's 'mini me' in footage of him enjoying himself and Lacey on a playground roundabout

John is affectionately called Mr Bennett's 'mini me' in footage of him enjoying himself and Lacey on a playground roundabout

John is affectionately called Mr Bennett’s ‘mini me’ in footage of him enjoying himself and Lacey on a playground roundabout

Mr Bennett also shared a video of his daughter Lacey walking through woodlands, calling her the 'apple of his eye'

Mr Bennett also shared a video of his daughter Lacey walking through woodlands, calling her the 'apple of his eye'

Mr Bennett also shared a video of his daughter Lacey walking through woodlands, calling her the ‘apple of his eye’

Meanwhile Charlie Gent paid tribute to his daughter Connie last night, saying: ‘Parents, spend as much time with your kids as you possibly can.

‘If you’re a parent and arguing please don’t stop that child from seeing the other parent. You never know what’s round the corner.

‘I’ve learnt the hard way like most things in life and it’s too late and I don’t want anyone to ever go through what I am going through right now.

‘My little girl has gone, I can’t even put into words or even how to feel or react right now. I shouldn’t even be writing this, now I have to live with the fact I was helpless to protect her as I always promised and she’s gone.’

He added in the social media post: ‘Fly safe baby girl I love you with all my heart and always will. Going to miss you like crazy.’

Police launched the murder investigation after emergency teams were called to the house in Chandos Crescent on Sunday.

Detectives said the case was being treated as ‘isolated’ and they were not looking for anyone else in connection with it.

The road in Killamarsh was cordoned off and multiple police vehicles remained at the scene through Sunday and Monday – with a police tent erected in a front garden.

Jason Bennett, father of two killed children, leaves a note at the scene of the suspected murder in Killamarsh

Jason Bennett, father of two killed children, leaves a note at the scene of the suspected murder in Killamarsh

Jason Bennett, father of two killed children, leaves a note at the scene of the suspected murder in Killamarsh

Jason Bennett, the father of the two children who were found in the house, paid tribute to them in a number of harrowing posts on social media

Jason Bennett, the father of the two children who were found in the house, paid tribute to them in a number of harrowing posts on social media

Jason Bennett, the father of the two children who were found in the house, paid tribute to them in a number of harrowing posts on social media

Floral tributes at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, where four people were found dead

Floral tributes at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, where four people were found dead

Floral tributes at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, where four people were found dead

A soft toy is left among floral tributes at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, where four people were found dead at a house on Sunday

A soft toy is left among floral tributes at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, where four people were found dead at a house on Sunday

A soft toy is left among floral tributes at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, where four people were found dead at a house on Sunday

People living close to the semi-detached house said the community had been left ‘devastated’ and some held a vigil last night.

Elaine Gyte, a 71-year-old grandmother who has lived in the area since 1995, left a pot plant to show her respect yesterday.

She said: ‘I knew the family slightly when I walked down the street. They haven’t lived here long, they came from Woodhouse. The mum Terri was smashing (and) friendly. I can’t believe what’s happened.’

One man living close by said: ‘I’m shocked. I think people will be devastated.’ The man, who has lived there for a year, said he believed the family who live in the house had been there for five or six months.

He said he was alerted by police on Sunday morning and thought: ‘God, what’s happened here?’

Another local told Yorkshire Live: ‘It’s a bit of a shock, it’s usually quiet round here so you don’t usually see police, not like this anyway.

‘It’s usually quiet here, but police said ”don’t worry” to us but we don’t know anything.’ And another resident added: ‘You don’t really want to see all this on your doorstep.’

Outwood Academy, which has schools in Chesterfield and Sheffield, closed on Monday as the three children were all pupils there.

It said: ‘A tragic incident has taken place in the community involving three of our students. We will however be open to any students who need our support.

‘Our thoughts are with all those affected by this sad news. We are working with the police and are unable to give more information at this time.’

Mr Bennett told reporters gathered near the scene of the incident: 'I can't believe I'll never see them again. I just want to hug them and kiss them. I'm heartbroken' (pictured, his daughter)

Mr Bennett told reporters gathered near the scene of the incident: 'I can't believe I'll never see them again. I just want to hug them and kiss them. I'm heartbroken' (pictured, his daughter)

Mr Bennett told reporters gathered near the scene of the incident: ‘I can’t believe I’ll never see them again. I just want to hug them and kiss them. I’m heartbroken’ (pictured, his daughter)

It is thought his two children are John (pictured), 13, and Lacy, 11

It is thought his two children are John (pictured), 13, and Lacy, 11

It is thought his two children are John, 13, and Lacey, 11 (pictured)

It is thought his two children are John, 13, and Lacey, 11 (pictured)

His two children John (left), 13, and Lacey, 11 (right) were found dead at the scene with their mother and best friend Lacey

He wrote on Facebook last night: 'I need my babies back. Life will never be the same. My angels. Won't be long till I'm touching your cheeks, holding you close and kissing your beautiful faces. Only you two can fix me' (pictured, his son)

He wrote on Facebook last night: 'I need my babies back. Life will never be the same. My angels. Won't be long till I'm touching your cheeks, holding you close and kissing your beautiful faces. Only you two can fix me' (pictured, his son)

He wrote on Facebook last night: ‘I need my babies back. Life will never be the same. My angels. Won’t be long till I’m touching your cheeks, holding you close and kissing your beautiful faces. Only you two can fix me’ (pictured, his son)

The devastated father of two children found dead alongside their best friend and mother at a semi-detached house in Derbyshire yesterday morning wept as he laid flowers outside the property yesterday

The devastated father of two children found dead alongside their best friend and mother at a semi-detached house in Derbyshire yesterday morning wept as he laid flowers outside the property yesterday

The devastated father of two children found dead alongside their best friend and mother at a semi-detached house in Derbyshire yesterday morning wept as he laid flowers outside the property yesterday

A man leaves flowers at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh

A man leaves flowers at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh

A man leaves flowers at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh

The scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, where four people were found dead at a house on Sunday

The scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, where four people were found dead at a house on Sunday

The scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, where four people were found dead at a house on Sunday

North East Derbyshire MP Lee Rowley described the deaths as ‘terrible and hugely tragic’. Posting on Twitter, he wrote: ‘Our condolences to the family and our thoughts are with them.

‘Killamarsh is such a lovely, close knit and warm community and I know that many residents will be shocked and worried by the news. I’ve no doubt that the village will pull together at this difficult time.’

Chief Constable Rachel Swann said: ‘At 7.26am yesterday the force was called in relation to concerns for the safety of a man in Killamarsh.

‘Four minutes later, when officers arrived at the house in Chandos Crescent, they found the bodies of 35-year-old Terri Harris, her two children, 11-year-old daughter Lacey Bennett and 13-year-old son John Paul Bennett, and Lacey’s friend Connie Gent, also 11, from Sheffield.

‘The families of Terri, Lacey, John Paul and Connie have all been informed and my thoughts, along with all at Derbyshire Constabulary, are with them at this most tragic of times.

‘This has been an understandably shocking event that has deeply affected the local community in Killamarsh, as well as Connie’s family and friends in Sheffield, and our thoughts are also with them.

‘I would also like to state my thanks to those officers who arrived at the scene with such speed as well as colleagues from the East Midlands Ambulance Service who attended the incident.

‘All acting with immense professionalism in such a difficult situation. While understandably worrying and upsetting this is believed to be an isolated incident in which those involved were known to one another and nobody else is being sought in connection with the deaths.

‘The force did not have any prior contact with those involved. The man officers arrested at the scene, a 31-year-old from Killamarsh, remains in police custody on suspicion of the murders of Terri, Lacey, John Paul and Connie.

‘A team of detectives have been working through the night to understand the circumstances that led to their deaths and I would urge anyone with any information to come forward.

‘Of particular interest is anyone who was in the Chandos Crescent area between 9.30pm on Saturday evening and 7.30am the following day and who may have information that would be helpful to the investigation.’

Emergency services at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, near Sheffield

Emergency services at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, near Sheffield

Emergency services at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, near Sheffield

An officer in a forensic suit at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh

An officer in a forensic suit at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh

An officer in a forensic suit at the scene in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh

A man has been arrested in connection with the deaths, the Metropolitan Police confirmed

A man has been arrested in connection with the deaths, the Metropolitan Police confirmed

A man has been arrested in connection with the deaths, the Metropolitan Police confirmed

The street has now been cordoned off and multiple police vehicles remain at the scene

The street has now been cordoned off and multiple police vehicles remain at the scene

The street has now been cordoned off and multiple police vehicles remain at the scene

Detective Chief Inspector Rob Routledge, who is leading the investigation team, added: ‘We would really like to hear from anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious in the early hours of this morning, or has any information which they think could help with our inquiries.

‘No matter how small you think that information may be, please do get in touch with us. It is understandably a worrying time for the community, and we would like to thank them for their patience and understanding at this time.

‘It was important to us that close relatives of those involved were informed before we could give further details about incident.

‘Residents will continue to see a large police presence in the area, and patrols are being carried out for reassurance. If you do have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to speak to them.’

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police quoting the reference 302-190921.           

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