Danielle Kelley, the widow of Devin Patrick Kelley – the man responsible for the Sutherland Springs, Texas, mass killing in November — has publicly broken her silence for the first time since her husband took the lives of at least 25 people at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
Danielle Kelley said that despite her husband's especially heinous act, she'll love him forever.
What are the details?
In a series of interviews with the San Antonio Express-News, Kelley said that her husband's behavior was off the morning he embarked on the murder spree — namely tying her to her bed with a rope, handcuffs, and tape while their 2-year-old son cried in the bedroom.
CBS News reported that Danielle Kelley said her husband told her that he loved her, kissed their 5-month-old daughter, and told the crying 2-year-old that he'd be right back.
She said he then proceeded to pick up his rifle and two handguns, and equipped himself with tactical gear.
"You get a sense of what's going to happen," Danielle Kelley told the newspaper. "Because no one just leaves in all-black attire with a ballistic vest."
He left the home, and traveled to the Sutherland Springs church, where he gunned down at least 25 congregants and injured at least 20 more. At least half the victims were children.
What did Danielle Kelley's adoptive mother say?
Danielle Kelley's adoptive mother, Michelle Shields, was a member of the church but was not in attendance that particular day — but Devin had long-standing issues with Shields and was reportedly not shy about vocalizing those issues.
Shields, whom the newspaper also interviewed, described the abuse that her daughter often endured at the hands of her husband.
"I think [Danielle] was afraid of him. That if he found out — he'd always say he's sorry the next minute, you know, so she was like 'Oh, OK, if he found out I said something he's going to get more upset so we're just going to keep it calm because he apologized," Shields said.
According to Shields, he sent threatening text messages to avoid the hospital at all costs after their second child was born in 2017.
"'I will personally make it my mission to destroy your entire life,'" Shields said her son-in-law told her in text message. "'I suggest you don't test my resolve.'"
Danielle Kelley said that she was aware that there was a wedge being forced between her and her mother, but she didn't care.
"I did pick him over her," Kelley said. "Because Devin was everything in my life."
Shields wasn't the only one with close ties to the church — Kelley also maintained relationships with some of the congregants, and even had babysat for some of the kids who were killed in her husband's murderous spree.
"If I could take everything, all the pain, and hold it on my own I would, so nobody else would hurt. If it was only me that could've died and everybody else could've been alive, I would've gladly taken that," Kelley said.
What happened to her husband?
She added that, in the months leading up to the mass killing, her husband changed for the worse, purchased an "assault-style" rifle, and amassed stockpiles of ammunition.
She noted that when she finally convinced him to attend church services — including those held at the Sutherland Springs church — he would laugh and eventually became an atheist.
"Devin was sick," Kelley explained. "He lost who he was. Because the real Devin would've never hurt babies. He was a family person. He would have never hurt anybody. He lost touch of reality."
The mass murderer, who joined the U.S. Air Force in 2010, was court-martialed after he assaulted his ex-wife and her son, fracturing the child's skull.
Kelley revealed that after the mass killing her husband phoned his parents and directed them to go to his house where she and the children were left.
He later called Kelley, who he told to enable the speakerphone so he could address the family.
"'I just shot up the Sutherland Springs church,'" Kelley recalled her husband saying. "'I've killed so many people — so, so many people.'"
She said that he kept "saying how sorry he was," and admitted that he wouldn't be making a return trip home.
He hung up, but not before the family exchanged "I love yous," Kelley said.
She added that despite her husband's actions she'll always love him, and she will not change her last name because she's "not going to be ashamed."
"No matter what, I will love him," Kelley said. "Even though he went off and ruined more people's lives than I could ever imagine."
She said she has returned to First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, but things will never be the same. Shields said that the congregation has welcomed them back with open arms.
You can watch a video interview with Danielle here.