A young mother who had just passed a nurse’s exam. A little boy two days away from turning 1-year-old. Dr. John Lunetta, the medical director for the American Red Cross’ western division, is accused of killing them in a horrific murder suicide.
Lunetta, 40, is believed to have murdered his girlfriend, Karen Jackson, 35, their son, John Jr., and the family dog before killing himself in a tragedy that shocked a Las Vegas neighborhood.
However, stories soon emerged in Nevada news reports that the well-educated doctor may have had a controlling side.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lunetta Filled His Facebook Page With Photos of the Boy
Dr. John Henry Lunetta painted a picture on Facebook that he was a loving father, repeatedly posting photos of his infant son. He even posted a photo from the delivery room. Photos of Lunetta with the child are about the only thing visible on his public page.
Once moving, the photos of Lunetta’s girlfriend, Karen Jackson, and their child, John Jr., are now heartbreaking. One friend had written under a photo, “Such love and pride for your beautiful baby boy!!! Yay!!!” The child’s 1st birthday would have been July 12.
Lunetta’s Facebook page said he lived in Las Vegas but was from Indiana.
The child was killed two days before his 1st birthday.
2. Police Found the Bodies After a Relative Called for a Welfare Check
It’s believed the family was dead inside the Vegas home for at least a day, according to The Review Journal. All of the victims were shot, The New York Daily News reported.
“It’s really, really tragic what’s going on here,” Lt. Dan McGrath told reporters. “It’s very clear that he shot the mother of his child and the infant and himself, and there’s also a dead dog inside.”
The police entered the home on July 10 after a relative requested a welfare check. Inside, they found a shocking scene: Jackson, Lunetta, the family dog, and the small boy all deceased.
Police have not yet detailed a motive or specified how the family died. However, they have said they suspect that Lunetta murdered the others before taking his own life.
3. Karen Jackson Had Just passed a Test to Become a Nurse Practitioner
Jackson was studying to be a nurse practitioner, and she had just reached her goal less than one week before she was murdered. She posted photos on Facebook showing she had passed the exam.
In April, she wrote, “Just submitted my last assignment and can now say I’m officially done with grad school. Thank you to everyone that has helped me survive this journey, couldn’t have done it without you.”
Jackson also had a 10-year-old daughter, who is alive. She was also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
4. Neighbors Expressed Shock but Then Revealed They Had Heard Rumors of Lunetta’s Controlling Nature
At first, neighbors interviewed by The Review Journal expressed shock and disbelief that Lunetta could be capable of killing his family, noting that he especially seemed to love the boy and dog.
However, some then revealed that they had heard stories about his controlling nature.
Neighbors told the Las Vegas newspaper that the couple “argued a lot. They saw a moving truck in front of the home over the weekend and wondered whether Jackson was leaving.”
The newspaper added that an SUV was still parked at the home with nursing textbooks next to a baby seat.
According to 3 News, “Police say Lunetta owned a gun legally. They say not too long ago they came to this residence for a custodial argument — not a physical one.”
5. Lunetta Was a Doctor Who Was a Medical Director for the American Red Cross
According to his LinkedIn page, Lunetta was the Red Cross’ medical director for its western region, a position he had held for four years. He was assistant medical director for a year before that.
Lunetta had a fellowship at Indiana University School of Medicine in blood banking and transfusions. He performed his residency at the University of Indiana in anatomic and clinical pathology. He received a medical degree from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and studied genetics at Washington University in St. Louis and in Alaska.