FREE TO KILL: Husband accused of executing estranged wife, her teen sons
John Edwards James was already facing domestic violence charges at time of killings
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Almost a year ago, a Tucson woman and her two teen sons were found shot to death in a home on the southeast side of town.
On July 1, 2021, 14-year-old Jaiden White, 18-year-old Talmadge Holmes Jr. and 44-year-old Willona Ametrice White were found in a home in the 7600 block of East Toronto Street, which is near Stella and Prudence.
The case went cold until Thursday, June 16, when White’s estranged husband was charged with murder.
John Edwards James, 46, had been sitting in jail on a drug charge, but police added three first-degree murder charges after connecting him to the crime.
Police said the scene inside the Toronto Street home was extremely violent and grim.
“The victims were executed. They were shot multiple times,” said Tucson Police Detective Pat Robinson, who’s been on this case since day one.
Officers found White and her two sons shot to death.
“Of course, there was a lot of blood. There was a lot of cartridge cases throughout the house. It was just a lot of violence,” Robinson said.
He said he believes at least one of the victims was asleep.
“The other two, I don’t think they were, but they were in their respective rooms,” he said.
The scene was so grim it jarred the 22-year veteran, who spent eight of those years as a homicide detective.
“I’ve investigated hundreds of crime scenes, homicide scenes, and this is the most horrific scene that I’ve been to out of all that I investigated,” Robinson said.
Robinson had leads, but family members gave him one particular person of interest -- James, who had a warrant out for his arrest and was a prohibited possessor.
Police arrested him the next day, but on a narcotics violation.
He’s been sitting in jail on that charge with a $25,000 bond all the while the TPD conducted interviews and processed the evidence.
“All came back to the same person,” Robinson said. “Every step we turned and came back to the same person and we were able to gather enough evidence to make the arrest.”
At the time of the killings, James was out of on a $5,000 bond on charges of domestic violence against White in December 2019.
Police arrested him on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of disorderly conduct domestic violence, two counts of kidnapping and one count of possessing a deadly weapon (a handgun and shotgun) by a prohibited possessor, all felonies.
Conditions of his release included no weapons, no drugs, no contact with the victim and to remain in contact with pretrial services.
Records show a pretrial status conference and jury trial had been scheduled September and November 2021, just a few months before Willona and her two sons were murdered.
Robinson believes he’s found the killer and hopes the wheels of justice turn quickly.
James faces three counts of first-degree murder and his bond was set at $1 million.
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