A deputy testified in court Tuesday that he walked into what looked like a horror story in a Denair home as a mother and father lay bleeding in a hallway while their teenage daughter was nude and motionless in a bathtub overflowing with water.
"There was blood everywhere. There was blood splattered all over the walls in the hallway," Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy Nathan Malone testified in the preliminary hearing for Shanna Wills, the daughter accused in her father's death.
It was about 8:15 p.m. Sunday, May 8, 2011. It was Mother's Day.
Malone was called to the home in the 3000 block of Salluce Drive for a report of a stabbing. The deputy found Shanna Wills in the bathtub and her parents seriously injured.
Wills was startled as the deputy grabbed her arm, trying to pull her out of the bathtub. That's when she started blurting out statements. he said.
Malone said Wills told him that "Jesus didn't want her to get out of the tub, because she wasn't done washing off all of her sins."
The powerful testimony Tuesday was the first in a preliminary hearing for Wills, 18, who is charged with murder, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon in the death of her father, Kenneth Wills, 62, and the attack on her mother, Susan Wills, then 61.
Their daughter was 17 when the incident occurred, but she is being prosecuted as an adult.
The defendant's mother also testified Tuesday, describing the bizarre details of what she encountered in the moments before the attack.
Susan Wills was asked to point to her daughter in the courtroom. At that moment, Shanna Wills wiped tears from her face with a crumpled tissue. The defendant continued to reach for a tissue box in front of her as her mother testified.
She arrived at the home about 6:30 p.m. after work. Inside, she said, she found the floors littered with rose petals of all colors.
In the kitchen, all the drinking glasses on the shelves were filled with water, a few of them with rose stems. The house had been decorated by her daughter.
On the kitchen table, there was a bowl with tangerines floating in it and a vase with more rose stems. She saw her daughter running around and waving her arms.
She testified that her daughter told her, "Oh, don't you just love it. Happy Mother's Day."
"I was kind of shocked and puzzled," Susan Wills said. "I didn't know what to say. It was too strange."
Upset at what she found, the mother said, she went into her bedroom to change. She then heard loud voices and what sounded like a struggle. She walked out and found a broken porcelain horse statue on the floor.
"That's when Shanna picked up the biggest piece (of the broken statue)
and sliced (her father's) forehead," Susan Wills testified.
He went into the kitchen, bleeding heavily, and leaned at the kitchen sink. She testified that her daughter grabbed a vacuum cleaner and, using both hands, hit her father on the back of his head with it.
Shanna Wills then left and returned to the kitchen, hitting her father again with a 3-foot tall electric fan, her mother said.
"I was trying to stop her," Susan Wills testified. "It was real crazy. I was hysterical, trying to stop this."
The couple went into the living room. Shanna Wills doused her mother with water from a plastic pitcher, spit at her and jabbed her in the legs with a piece of the broken horse statue, the mother said.
The defendant then ordered her parents into their bedroom, hitting them with a 6-inch brass horse as they moved down the hallway, the mother said. Bleeding, the father went into the master bathroom followed by the mother.
"She came in and was yelling and screaming at us," her mother said. "I don't know what she was saying."
After a short struggle with her mother, Shanna Wills ordered her parents to get on their knees. Shanna Wills had grabbed a decorative knife with an eagle on the handle. The knife had been on a table and never used.
"You're not going to die, I made you angels," Susan Wills testified that her daughter said as the defendant held the knife above her head. "And then, she stabbed me in the back. I remember saying, or screaming, 'You're killing us.' "
Susan Wills remained injured in the bedroom with a punctured lung as her daughter and husband moved into the hallway, where the attack continued. She eventually crawled into the hallway, where her husband was on the ground dead, before she grabbed her cell phone and called 911.
"It was not my Shanna," Susan Wills testified. "My Shanna wouldn't have done that."
A week before the attack, her parents had noticed dramatic changes in their daughter. Susan Wills testified that her daughter told them she had a secret she didn't want others to know until she turned 18.
"I am the new messiah," Susan Wills said her daughter told them. "I am the new savior."
Testimony in the preliminary hearing continues today. At its conclusion, Judge John Freeland will determine whether there's enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.