The father of 27-year-old Johnnyray Nevarez speaks out about his son's murder-suicide. Jimmy Nevarez says Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD is behind the tragic death of his son and daughter in-law, Crystal Nevarez-Lugo.
"There's a lot of kids coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan that are coming back with PTSD," Jimmy Nevarez told ABC-7.
And Johnnyray Nevarez was one of them. Johnnyray served in the Marines from 2003 to 2007, fighting in the bloody battle of Fallujah. He saw his friends killed by an IED blast only he survived. His broken ribs healed, but he could never forget that moment. After his first tour, his family said they could see the toll it took on their ambitious son. His father, Jimmy Nevarez, said one night he found his son hiding underneath the bed in fetal position, reliving his wartime terror. But, Jimmy says, Johnnyray only showed love and kindness toward his family.
"There's no reason why this tragic thing happened," Nevarez said. "They loved each other dearly and they were expecting their child and were so happy about it happening. And to come down to a tragic accident like this is unbelief."
The Nevarez family says they can't understand how a loving son, brother, husband and father of two young boys could turn on his pregnant wife, 20-year-old Crystal Nevarez Lugo, and then himself. But they say the war in Iraq left him emotional, crying often, and sometimes becoming angry. He would confide in his uncle about the gory scenes still appearing in his head.
"We need the proper medication, proper help and mainly the proper attention as veterans," Nevarez said.
Johnnyray wasn't planning on being a veteran though. He was medically retired after an accident left him blind in one eye. But he continued to work hard, enrolling in Western Technical College as a mechanic with plans to take over the family business.
"It put a lot of pain in all of us, both parties, both families, we are suffering," Nevarez said.
The last time Jimmy Nevarez saw his son and his daughter-in-law was on Thanksgiving, when the couple bounced baby names off each other. Jimmy says something terrifiying must have been triggered in Johnnyray for their son to do this.
"My son and his wife will be badly missed. This tragedy could have been prevented. This issue of PTSD had to be addressed more," Nevarez said.