John and Mary Sisk, the parents shot to death with their three young children in Elkmont, Alabama, were a car dealer tech known as “Dub Diesel” and a middle school special education teacher. Authorities say the family was slain by a 14-year-old boy who was John’s son and Mary’s stepson.
The suspect accused of killing all five family members – including an infant – has not yet been identified by authorities because of his young age.
Family members say he’s Mason Sisk and a cousin told WAFF-TV that he had just learned his stepmother wasn’t his real mom. He also had been burning live animals and breaking into his school, the television station reported.
Steven Young, the public information office for the Limestone Sheriff’s Office in Alabama, called the shootings a “tragedy on a scale” not familiar to tiny Elkmont, population just over 400. He said the shootings would have a ripple effect in the small town. “This affects all of us.”
He identified victim John Sisk, 38, as the “father of the offender” and said Mary Sisk, 35, was the “stepmother of the offender….the offender is 14 years of age and is currently charged with five counts of juvenile murder.” The teen could later face adult charges, even capital murder, Young added.
Heavy has confirmed that John Sisk also had a 14-year-old son named Mason Sisk. Mason was not among the victims killed in the shootings, but police have not confirmed that Mason is the suspect in custody. However, WAAY-TV reported: “Multiple family members tell WAAY 31 the suspect’s name is Mason Sisk. However, the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office has not released a name of the accused shooter.”
The children killed were a brother of the suspect who was just 6 months old; a sister, 5; and a brother, 6. (Heavy has learned the older children killed were named Aurora and Kane.)
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mary Sisk Worked as a Special Education Teacher in Hunstville & Described Herself as ‘Happily Married’
According to her Mountain Gap Schools page, Mary Sisk had worked in education “for over 10 years working with students in all walks of life.” She was listed as working in grade 7 in the special education department at a middle school.
She described a pleasant life. “I am happily married with a great husband and four beautiful children,” she wrote. “I am originally from New Orleans and really miss the food! I am currently working on furthering my education with the support of my amazing family!”
Mary listed her education as a bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in special education from Southeastern Louisiana University. She also had certifications in special education, “mental retardation,” and specific learning disability, the website bio reads.
“We are heartbroken to learn of the tragedy involving one of our teachers, Mary Sisk, and her family,” a Huntsville school press release says. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Sisk family and we ask everyone to remember them during this difficult time.”
John and Mary Sisk’s baby registry at Target says their youngest child was due in February 2019. Aurora, another of the victims, was known as “Rorrie,” and was born in 2014, according to a birth announcement that lists the suspect as 9 years old at the time.
“John was such a great guy someone you could depend on someone that would step up to help without asking someone that wanted better things out of life and was will to go for it! Mary was the true backbone of the family supporting John as he grew and continually growing,” wrote Robert Brown on Facebook. “John you will be miss by me and so many other who loved you! God bless you and your family my friend!”
2. John Sisk Worked on New Vehicles at a Car Dealership, Used to Cut Hair & Was Finding Spirituality
John Sisk wrote on LinkedIn that he was a “PDI Tech” for a car dealership in Huntsville, Alabama and described his duties as “put new vehicles in the service to be sold.”
Before that he was an internet sales manager for Rocket Harley Davidson in Huntsville for three years. He completed the Paul Mitchell School in Huntsville in cosmetology. “Graduated with cutting honors, color honors, texture honors, and Deans list,” he wrote. The Paul Mitchell School paid tribute to John Sisk on Facebook, writing, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our Paul Mitchell Alumni, John Sisk. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family during this time. ❤️”
“Oh, my! He used to cut my husband’s hair. Did a great job,” a woman responded on the Paul Mitchell comment thread.
He also had an associate’s degree in diesel mechanics technology/technician from Lincoln Tech – Indianapolis and in shop management. Mary Sisk had endorsed some of the skills he listed on LinkedIn.
Sisk had an arrest history. In February 2019, a local newspaper ran this arrest report for him: “John Wayne Sisk, 38, of 25019 Ridge Road, Elkmont, first-degree burglary.” He also has a criminal history in Indiana that resulted in a conviction in a felony case. Felons are prohibited from possessing firearms.
In the recent case, journalist Breken Terry reported on WAAY-TV that John Sisk was “charged with armed burglary” and court documents say Sisk was accused of going to a man’s home “with the intent to rob him then used a pistol to assault the victim and caused harm to him.” The case was still “playing out in the court system.”
However, a friend, Ron Henson, told AL.com that John Sisk was a “bigger than life character…real outgoing” and that he was focusing more on family and spirituality. He enjoyed riding motorcycles.
“One of the last texts I got from John Sisk, the new man formerly known as Dub Diesel…” wrote Henson in a Facebook tribute.
“Father, I choose to believe that I am not a victim, but that I can be victorious in Christ Jesus. I put my life into your hands. Help me to catch the little foxes that spoil the vine. Restore me from all effects of emotional trauma and abuse. I choose to believe that all things are possible. Now turn my sorrows into places where your abounding grace has the final say. For the glory of God and in Jesus’ name, amen!”
A friend asked Henson of that text, “That text was him turning his life over?” Henson responded, “Yes, and we prayed together often.”
“Dub was a wonderful man who bent over backwards to help my mother every chance he could. Rest In Peace dub! I know this family will miss you and be entirely grateful for you did for our mom,” wrote another friend on Facebook of John Sisk.
3. The Sheriff’s Department Says the Teenage Son Confessed to Shooting the Five Family Members With a Gun That Was Illegally in the Home
Young said that the suspect initially claimed he heard gunshots but later confessed.
“The offender called 911…he met deputies in the driveway and told them he had been in the basement of the home and heard gunshots from the main level of the home upstairs,” Young said. “He said he ran out the door and there was very little other information given.” However, “discrepancies were found in his statement,” according to Young. Officials confronted him with discrepancies and the teen “admitted to shooting the five family members” who all lived in the residence, said Young. He then assisted officials in finding the gun. “It was illegally in the residence,” said Young, although he didn’t explain why.
The Limestone County Sheriff’s Department wrote on Twitter: “Five people have been shot at a residence in the [25000 block of Ridge Rd.] in Elkmont. Three confirmed dead at the scene, two were airlifted in critical condition.”
The Sheriff’s Department later posted this update: “UPDATE: The two subjects in critical condition have died. The 14-year old caller was interviewed and confessed to shooting all five members of his family in the residence. He is currently assisting investigators in locating the weapon, a 9mm handgun that he said he tossed nearby.” They added: “Investigators have recovered the handgun from the side of the road nearby where it had been tossed.”
The boy is accused of murdering his father, stepmother, and three siblings, according to WKRN-TV. A motive was not released.
4. The Teen Was a Local High School Student Whose Grandmother Used to Live in the Basement & Whose Birth Mother Died Suddenly in 2011
An obituary for the teenager’s mother says she died suddenly in 2011. It does not give a cause of death. She was 31 years old at the time and had roots in Indiana. At the time, in addition to the teen suspect, she had a second son who was a baby. She also had a child who preceded her in death. She wasn’t married to John Sisk at the time of her death (she was married to a different man), although another family obituary states that her last name used to be Sisk.
John Wayne Sisk and the mother took out a marriage license in 2000 in Indiana, old newspaper articles show.
Journalist Terry reported that Sisk had asked Alabama courts for full custody of the boy in 2010 because his mother was “unfit to raise him.” At the time, the suspect was 6 years old.
Counselors were going to be available at the local high school the teenager attended in the wake of the shooting. “Please be in prayer for our school and community. We will have extra counselors at school today,” wrote Elkmont High School on Facebook.
The teen’s grandmother told WAAY 31 that “the deceased are the only family they have in the area.”
The grandma told the television station that she recently lived in the family’s basement. Family members were sobbing and distraught at the scene, according to the television station. A helicopter airlifted some wounded family members to the hospital, where they died.
Friend Ray Jackson wrote of John Sisk, “This is some hurt right here. I just talked to you last week and you was supposed to come to kick it with me this weekend. ? Man you just never know when the last time Is the last time. So many memories, so much love. True 1%ers trained under Big Bear 1%er (R.I.P.). We truly are a dying breed. Love you brother. R.I.P. Big Dub Dub Mary Diesel #DyingBreed.” In a photo Jackson shared, John Sisk is wearing a motorcycle club jacket.
5. A Man Who Described Himself as a Neighbor Recalled How the Teenage Suspect Would Play at His House When Younger & Go to Church
On Facebook, a man who identified himself as a neighbor, wrote a heartfelt post about the shootings.
“I’ve been thinking about the shooting that happened next door. About all of the people affected. About the property owners, the VFD, the neighbors watching between the mini blinds, the people who have relatives on our street, the local school,” he wrote. “This is surreal. The teenage boy used to play at our house often as a kid. He came in and played and ate snacks. We carried him to church occasionally.”
He added: “It’s hard to imagine what has happened in 14 years to come to a point that wiping out your entire family seems like the best option. Now he has no one. I’m sure he’s realized that he now has no one to console him. No one to wrap him in a hug……Ever. What if it were your grandson or nephew or your child’s playmate?”
The neighbor continued, “He’s brought this upon himself. He’s rocked a community. There’s no denying his heinous act. Who’s in his corner? Jesus. Jesus is ready to forgive. Jesus forgave me a lot of horrible things. Jesus forgave you a lot of horrible things too. Sure, there are going to be some severe consequences. The fallout will be horrendous. But, Christians are called to be like Christ. Christ who forgave those who crucified Him. When you pray for our ‘good’ neighbors, don’t forget to pray for this kid.”
A woman wrote on Facebook that the family had just returned from a vacation to Florida, writing, “This family had just spent the holiday weekend with a good friend of mine in Pensacola.. they couldn’t have been home long when he did this. She is devastated?.” She then added that the family had returned home the night of the shootings.
Newspaper archives show the suspect made the honor roll in fourth grade.
The Elkmont, Alabama shooting comes just days after a 16-year-old boy in nearby Toney, Alabama was accused of shooting his father to death after his dad asked him to clean his room (his brother was also wounded but lived). Authorities haven’t named that teenager either because of his age, according to WSFA-TV.
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