Right around midnight, between July 22 and 23, 2015, a call came in to the 911 dispatch in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. But there was no sound on the other end of the line. Out of caution, first responders were sent to the Indian Hills address. Upon arriving, they found a great deal of blood on the front porch.
Inside, they could hear a girl’s voice screaming, “Save me! Save me!” so they rushed inside. The 13-year-old girl had been stabbed repeatedly, her throat slit, but she clung to life.
As they searched the rest of the house, police discovered a scene out of a horror movie. Blood was everywhere. First, they found 12-year-old Daniel Bever, dead from multiple stab wounds. The mother of the family, 44-year-old April Bever, was also dead; she’d endured 48 stab wounds. Her husband, 52-year-old David, was dead from 28 stab wounds. Inside a bathroom were 7-year-old Christopher and 5-year-old Victoria, huddled on the floor, also dead from multiple stab wounds.
The youngest of the Bevers, a 2-year-old girl, was thankfully alive and unharmed.
As the officers continued searching the scene, they spotted two figures running out the back and into the woods behind the house. Police dogs quickly cornered the two: 16-year-old Michael Bever and 18-year-old Robert Bever. The two were splashed in blood and wearing Kevlar vests.
On the way to the police station, the brothers were silent and emotionless.
There wasn’t much to learn about the Bever family. Neighbors described them as “secretive.” Six of their seven children were homeschooled and not allowed to play with other children. Their father had also installed a security system that included cameras pointed both outside and inside the house.
But despite their strict isolation from the real world, there was apparently very little protection from the internet. There were a lot of computers in the Bever home — Michael and Robert had two laptops each. It was likely stories on the internet that fed Robert’s obsession with mass murderers like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine shooters. Michael and his surviving sister both testified that Robert talked about them and other mass murderers constantly.
And he was doing more than just talking. Once in the interrogation room, Michael told police that he and Robert had begun collecting knives they purchased on the internet. Robert also purchased a full suit of Kevlar body armor with the money he earned working at a Christian call center. Michael could only afford a vest.
Robert, Michael said, had begun keeping a journal where he wrote down his fantasies of becoming an infamous killer. Robert would say and write that he hated people, that society was worthless. So the two started making plans to go on a killing spree from Oklahoma to Washington state, killing randomly as they went. Their ultimate goal was to kill 50–100 people.
So Robert ordered several guns and ammunition online. The guns, he would pick up at a local gun store. But the ammo was going to be delivered to his home — which would arouse suspicion. So Robert decided that they needed to get rid of their family the day before the ammo was to arrive. It would also, according to Robert, let them start their spree with a “high count.”
The plan was for the two brothers to quietly slit the throats of their other family members while they slept. They would then clean up the scene, dismember the bodies and stow them in the attic until the ammo arrived. Then they would set off on their spree, where they would post pictures of their family’s bodies to social media.
But, as Michael said in the interrogation room, “nothing went according to plan.”
First, their 13-year-old sister came to the room the brothers shared right before they were going to begin. So one of them (it’s still not clear which) lured her inside, where Robert slit her throat. But she didn’t die right away. She started screaming as Robert continued stabbing her.
Her screams woke up the rest of the house. From this point, the two brothers’ testimonies are confused and, at times, contradictory. One or both of them began stabbing their mother in the hallway, but she fought them off and ran outside. Michael followed her outside and managed to wrestle her back into the house before finishing her off.
Their father, too, had run towards the screams. Robert waited for him in their room and then stabbed him and slit his throat.
Then the two went looking for their younger siblings. Daniel, they stabbed in the back multiple times. Christopher and Victoria were hiding in the bathroom, terrified. So Michael knocked on the door and pretended to ask for help, saying, “Help! Robert’s out to get me!” When the two opened the door, both brothers descended on their two young siblings, stabbing them to death.
Hearing the sirens, the two bolted out the back door towards the woods. They had no plan — in fact, they weren’t even wearing shoes. They dropped to the ground and attempted to hide, but police dogs found them within minutes.
The brothers were arraigned quickly, both charged with five counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. They both pled not guilty.
Robert, however, eventually pled guilty to all counts and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He is currently serving his sentence at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington, Oklahoma.
Michael, still a minor, faced trial on April 16, 2018. He was tried as an adult, since, according to Oklahoma law, defendants ages 15 to 17 who are charged with first-degree murder must be prosecuted as adults. On Aug. 9, 2018, he was convicted on all counts and sentenced to five life sentences plus 28 years for the assault on his surviving sister. He was, however, given the possibility of parole because of his status as a minor. The earliest he would be eligible for parole would be in 2054, when he would be 54 years old.
The house where the massacre took place, like most horrific crime scenes, was a site of sorrow for the whole town. It was the worst killing Broken Arrow had ever seen.
So one city councillor launched fundraiser to buy the house, then have it demolished so a memorial park could be built.
The fundraising effort was well underway when, a year after the murders, the house caught fire under suspicious circumstances.
So the city demolished what was left of the burned-out house, and in May of 2019, they dedicated a new park to the Bever family’s memory, as well as the first responders that night. Named Reflection Park, it has walking paths and a gazebo, and its flowerbeds serve as a stop for migrating Monarch butterflies.
The surviving sisters have been adopted by a Tulsa family.