Jesse ‘Madison’ Holton: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Twitter/mugshot Jesse Madison Holton

Jesse “Madison” Holton says he lived an unimaginable nightmare; police suspected him of murdering both of his parents, April Holton and Mike Holton, former mayor of Eclectic, Alabama.

Holton, then 17, was charged as an adult with the slayings of his mother and father, but the charges were later dismissed. The teen is often simply called Madison Holton (his dad’s first name was technically Jesse too).

He, in turn, maintains that his father murdered his mother. Now, Holton will tell his story at 10/9C on NBC’s Dateline on the evening of April 19, 2019. The shootings occurred on September 11, 2016. The charges were dropped in fall 2018 after Jesse Holton spent more than a year in jail.

“I have no doubt in my mind that the sheriff will try to put me back in jail,” Madison Holton told Dateline. “I don’t know why he has such a grudge against me.” Told the sheriff thinks he committed murder, Holton said, “He will think wrong for the rest of his life.”

According to Dateline, Mike Holton had a drug problem and narcotics in his system on that night. In addition, the parents were undergoing a divorce. Mike’s diaries also indicated a man who felt like he couldn’t go on without his marriage.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Eleven Minutes Before the Shooting, a Deputy Visited the Home After Mike Holton Grew Upset His Son Held a Party

According to Dateline, the couple seemed “on the same page about their teenage son.” However, Madison Holton was going through “teenage rebellion,” and his parents were separating. The parents told him if he messed up again, he would go to jail.

According to Dateline, Madison threw a house party while his dad was at work. Michael Holton called the sheriff’s office, and a deputy came over to the home at the dad’s request. The deputy reported that April was in the living room, and Madison was “sullen on the couch.” Michael asked the deputy “how as parents they could get the juvenile courts involved,” according to Dateline. He told the deputy he found drug paraphernalia associated with the party, the Wetumpka Herald reported.

WSFA-TV reports that Mike Holton had handcuffed his son. The dad was upset the house “was trashed,” the sheriff told Elmore & Autauga News.

There were “remnants of a teenage party.” Eleven minutes later, after the deputy left, there was a 911 call. A neighbor reported the parents had been shot in the head, WSFA-TV reported.

A sheriff’s investigator says that Madison Holton left his residence and told his neighbor that his parents were involved in a physical altercation. He claimed his parents went into the bedroom and got involved in a physical fight. According to Emlore & Autauga News, “Jesse ran to a neighbor’s home, still handcuffed reportedly, and said he needed help…Jesse told the neighbor his father had a gun and his parents were in the house.”

Mike Holton was dead when deputies arrived. April was still alive, but she wouldn’t live for long.

The trajectory of the wounds is what made authorities turn away from murder-suicide as a possibility initially, according to Dateline. Michael Holton was killed by a close contact wound at the base of his head. Investigators said they would have to place the gun upside down and angle it with a left hand to replicate the trajectory of that wound. But Michael Holton was right handed.

The sheriff and his investigators thought suicide was improbable and the pathologist classified the death a homicide, Dateline says.

Investigators said Madison Holton told them he kicked down his parents’ bedroom door when his mom called for help, but authorities didn’t find evidence of a broken door, according to WSFA-TV.

The station reported that the bullet “entered the back left side of his (Mike Holton’s) head and exited through the front right.” According to The Montgomery Advertiser, testimony described the parents’ wounds this way:

“Mike Holton was shot in back of the head, on the left side…with the bullet exiting the front of his head. Mike Holton was right-handed and shot right-handed, so it’s not ‘probable’ that he shot himself in the back of the head on the left side.”

April Holton “received a gunshot wound to one of her fingers on her right hand, consistent with a ‘defensive wound’…April Holton’s right hand was covering the top right portion of her head, where the bullet entered…The medical examiner who performed both autopsies characterized the injuries at ‘close contact wounds.'”

2. The District Attorney Says the Evidence Is More Consistent With Holton’s Story Than Murder

District Attorney Randall Houston said in a 2018 news conference, “I’ve never been confronted with a situation like this where my prosecutor did not believe it was ethical to go ahead with the charges. He was concerned that if Jesse was found guilty, it could not be undone.”

He said in a press release, “As prosecutors, our job is to find the truth and do justice. When we can’t find the truth, it is impossible to do justice.” He revealed in the release that there were three theories in the case, but not enough evidence to support a finding of reasonable doubt in either one: “From the beginning, this case has been open to interpretation to what is actually the truth. Either Jesse (Madison) Holton killed his father and mother; the father of Jesse (Madison) Holton killed (his) mother then Jesse killed his father; the father of Jesse (Madison) Holton killed Jesse’s mother and then killed himself.”

The DA added in the news conference: “If evidence ever develops otherwise, to convince us beyond a reasonable doubt that we could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, then the murder charges could be reinstated.”

“It’s been a difficult case from the beginning,” he said. “…However, originally the Sheriff’s Department was informed… that this was a homicide. I think that’s based on the unusual positioning of the bullet wound. The designation of homicide has not changed. However, in preparing the case for trial… the most they could say is it’s more likely than not that it’s a homicide.”

Normally, you’d have blood splatter, DNA, possibly fingerprints, he said. “That did not occur in that case. We did have fingerprints, but they were not Jesse Holton’s fingerprints,” said Houston. “There was blood splatter, but none of it was on Jesse. There was no blood splatter at all on him. We had Jesse engaging in unusual behavior. I don’t know if he’s just a weird kid, I don’t know what it was, but he did some unusual things that led investigators to question what he was saying.”

In the end, though, the DA says the evidence they received “was more consistent with Jesse’s story than with murder.”

The first grand jury in the case only indicted Holton in the murder of his father, but a second grand jury had indicted him in both deaths.

Jesse Madison Holton’s attorney told the Wetumpka Herald newspaper that he believes Mike Holton killed his wife and then himself in a murder suicide. He argued that Mike Holton shot himself in the back of the head and was ambidexterous, allowing him to do so. He also argued, according to the Wetumpka Herald, that “April Holton had several injuries where she had been beaten and Michael Holton’s skin was recovered from under her fingernails. Michael Holton was also found with defensive wounds.”

There was testimony that “recorded jail phone calls captured Holton asking females if they wanted to sleep with a murderer,” WSFA-TV reported.

While in custody, he made other bizarre comments, such as “he wanted to know when Wetumpka’s prom was going to be,” reported the Montgomery Advertiser. He was a high school senior at the time.

3. Jesse Madison Holton Says His Christian Faith Got Him Through It All & the Parents Were Going Through a Divorce

Mike and April’s marriage had ruptured, and they were not living in the same home at the time of their deaths, according to the Elmore & Autauga News. There was an active divorce filing.

“I couldn’t live every day being mad,” he told the Montgomery Advertiser after the charges were dropped. “I don’t understand how a person could do that. I just thank God that he kept my head on straight through the whole thing. There were times when I would ponder what happened. There were times that I felt so helpless.”

He told the newspaper that he was in shock when his parents died, which is why he may not have shown that much emotion.

“It’s hard to explain,” Madison Holton said to the newspaper. “People say I showed no emotion. I was just shocked the night that it happened. And then everything that happened over the next couple of weeks was just crazy. I guess I’ve grieved my parents’ deaths. It was just an extremely hard thing to do with everything else that was going on.

An old Twitter page in Jesse Madison Holton’s name dates to 2012. “watchin the Expendables,” reads one tweet. “in scientology a smoker is someone who in a past life fell into a volcano,” says another.

The Twitter page also indicates an interest in XBox. “send me friend requeston xbox live x5xBEASTMODEx5x,” reads another tweet.

4. April Holton Was Described as a ‘Team Mom’ Who Was Active in a Baptist Church

Jesse Madison Holton and April Holton

April Diane Owenby Holton, 37, of Eclectic, was born December 24, 1978, according to her obituary. The obituary says she was survived by three children: Madison Holton, Hayden Holton and Kyle Holton.

“April was a member of First Baptist Church of Eclectic since her childhood, where she was active in the Youth Mission and won Bible drills, the obit says.

“She was a graduate of 1997 Class of Elmore County High School, where she played in the band; she was saxophone section leader and also assistant drum major. She was a full-time mom and could often be seen in the dugout section as a team mom.”

A friend wrote on her funeral remembrance page, “April was a beautiful person & I am blessed to have spent the short time with her that I did.” Another wrote, referring to April Holton’s maiden name, “To the Owenby family I am so sorry for your loss of a wonderful soul and a wonderful person who always had a smile on her beautiful face. April, you’ll be missed dearly, pretty girl. May your soul R.I.P baby girl.”

April’s brother Michael Evans, a police officer elsewhere, told WSFA-TV that he believes Madison is innocent.

“The first thing we were told when my brother arrived on the scene was Michael shot my sister and then killed himself,” said Evans. “…Apparently there’s no blood or DNA on him (Madison Holton) at all or on any of his clothing. They didn’t find any of his DNA in the bedroom. I know the gun as covered in blood, so if the gun was covered in blood there had to be blood on him. At the prelim, if I recall, the deputy that spoke that day said there’s no evidence that he tried to clean up, no evidence he changed his clothes.”

5. Mike Holton Was a Former Mayor & Fire Chief Who Traveled to New York After 9/11 to Volunteer

mike holton

FacebookMike and April Holton

The father’s full name was Jesse Michael Holton, and he was born on June 3, 1979.

He was a graduate of 1997 Class of Elmore County High School, according to his obituary, and a member of First Baptist Church of Eclectic.

Mike Holton had a long legacy of public service. “He served in the National Guard, Montgomery Fire Department, Alexander City Fire Department and Millbrook Fire Department and on the Air Evac Lifeteam,” says his obit.

“He served as Chief of the Eclectic Fire Department and was a certified fire instructor. He gladly traveled to New York after 9-11 and helped many families. He served as Mayor of Eclectic from 2012-2014. His life was devoted to serving people and his community. He was a Little League Coach for football and baseball, a loving father and husband and a dear friend to all who knew him.”

One local family wrote on his funeral remembrance page, “Mike was loved by all who met him. He will truly be missed!”

“Mike you were a very close friend and I will miss you a lot,” wrote a friend. “I hope you have fun playing your music for our lord because I know he will enjoy hearing it. I will never forget you brother. I will see you when I get there. Rest in peace.”