A hairdresser in Kentucky shot-and-killed four people before committing suicide in a murderous rampage across two communities on February 10. Cops in Johnson County say that in total, five people were killed, including the shooter, Joseph Nickell.
In a statement, the Johnson County Sheriff’s office said that deputies were called to a home in McKenzie Branch, about 120 miles east of Lexington, at 3:33 p.m. on February 10. There, officers found two people dead of gunshot wounds. Those victims have been named as Nickell’s parents, James and Arlene Nickell.
A witness in McKenzie Branch, later reported to be Nickell’s son, Joseph Cole Nickell, said that his father fled the scene in a black Toyota Camry. The sheriff’s office then involved the Paintsville Police Department and the Kentucky State Police in the search. Later, a tip led officers to a home on Mill Street in Paintsville, about 10 miles south of the original murder scene. In that home, cops found three people dead, including Nickell, who had committed suicide. Also found dead were Nickell’s girlfriend, Lindsey Vanhoose, and her mother, Patricia Vanhoose.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Sheriff Called the Shooting ‘One of the Most Disturbing Acts of Violence I Have Ever Seen’
Sheriff Price said in the statement, “This has been a horrific murder spree. The lives of four innocent victims were taken. The perpetrator then took his own life. There are no words to describe the heartbreak in seeing four lives taken due to the actions of one man. I have worked in law enforcement for 34 years. This is one of the most disturbing acts of violence I have ever seen.”
Almost exactly three years before his death, Nickell was arrested and charged with being drunk in public, domestic violence causing minor injury and attempting to flee officers on foot. A family source told Heavy.com that Nickell was “a predator of the worst kind” and was “repeatedly” in jail as well as being a “drug addict.”
2. Nickell’s Son Witnessed His Father Shoot His Grandfather
Nickell has a college aged son who attends Morehead State University. His son shares his father’s name but goes by his middle name. Nickell’s son is the subject of multiple Facebook posts from his father. At the time of his son’s high school graduation, Nickell wrote, “Man, time goes by fast. God has been so good to me.” In another message in March 2017, Nickell wrote, “So so blessed to have a son who loves the Lord.” A family member told Heavy.com that it was Nickell’s son who initially called 911 after seeing his father shoot his grandfather dead.
3. Nickell’s Sister Died in August 2017, 3 Months After She Was Arrested for Possession
Nickell’s sister, Rebekah, died in August 2017. Online records show that Rebekah had been arrested in May 2017 for possession and public intoxication. According to her Facebook page, Rebekah Nickell had been working as a marriage and family counsellor at the Faith Counseling Center in Betsy Layne, Kentucky. Rebekah attended Lindsey Wilson College and Liberty University. Like her brother, Rebekah was a native of Paintsville. Her death was the subject of a discussion on Topix with one person writing that she had been married multiple times, had drug problems and was arrested at her job in May 2017. Another person wrote, “Ask her brother what happened.” To which another person wrote, “Agree.”
One of Nickell’s family members told Heavy that he and Lindsey Vanhoose had been accused of pushing Rebekah down the stairs the day before her death. The following day, after complaining of headache, Rebekah died after taking a nap. Now autopsy was ever done as Nickell’s mother had Rebekah “buried immediately.”
4. Nickell Was a Fan of Donald Trump & Made Islamophobic Posts on Facebook
Nickell maintained multiple different Facebook pages. According to one that was last updated on February 1, Nickell lived in Paintsville. Of the little other information that can be taken from that page, it shows that Nickell was a supporter of Israel. His profile image was a graphic of the Israeli flag. On January 18, Nickell liked page titled “IDF Women.” The day before, Nickell wrote on his page, “Live your life too the fullest Keep Christ first!!!” Nickell is shown to be fan of Trump’s presidency and has made Islamophobic Facebook posts. A family source told Heavy.com that Nickell “hid behind religion.”
5. Nickell Was Last Working at a Hair Salon in Pikeville
On a separate page, Nickell identifies himself as a cosmetologist and hair stylist. He also says that he is a representative for Nerium International anti-aging creams, a company that has been accused of being a pyramid scheme. As of September 2017, Nickell said he was working at Intensity Salon in Pikeville, Kentucky.