ST. CHARLES, Mo. (TCD) -- A 32-year-old man will spend the rest of his life in prison for fatally stabbing two of his wife’s friends, one of the victims's sons, and injuring his wife.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports St. Charles County Circuit Judge Rebeca Navarro-McKelvey opted not to give Shawn Kavanagh the death penalty for the deaths of 22-year-old Tara Lynn Fifer, 29-year-old Lexy Vandiver, and 7-year-old Mason Vandiver, who were all killed on Valentine’s Day 2014. He was convicted in March.
Navarro-McKelvey said at the sentencing, "Today I’m going to give you what you don’t deserve. I’m going to give you mercy."
On Feb. 14, 2014, Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputies went to the 26000 block of Humber Road near Jonesburg after a man called to say he "just stabbed his wife and had killed several others." Fifer and Lexy Vandiver were found deceased inside the home, while Mason and Kavanagh’s wife were airlifted to hospitals for their injuries.
Deputies said an 18-month-old girl was found inside the residence but was unharmed.
Officials arrested Kavanagh on two counts of first-degree murder, first-degree domestic assault, four counts of armed criminal action, and first-degree burglary.
According to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, on the day of the stabbings, Kavanagh’s "soon-to-be ex-wife," Jessica Powell, went to her friend’s house. Shawn Kavanagh showed up because he "suspected that his ex-wife was engaged in a sexual relationship" with one of the victims. Shawn and Jessica got into an argument, and Shawn went to his car, grabbed a knife, and "went on a killing spree."
Shawn stabbed Jessica "multiple times," but she survived. The Attorney General’s Office said the four victims sustained 75 stab wounds total.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Kavanagh killed 7-year-old Mason as he tried to protect Lexy.
Kavanagh reportedly got upset because Jessica stood him up for their Valentine’s Day plans. When deputies arrived at the home, he said he "blacked out" and "lost it."
The three women all worked together at a nearby nursing home, and Powell and Fifer began having a relationship.Navarro-McKelvey told Kavanagh she spared him the death penalty because he called 911, confessed to killing the victims, and lives with mental disorders.
She said at the sentencing, "I have been a lawyer for 23 years and nothing has challenged me professionally and spiritually as much as this case."
Warren County Prosecuting Attorney Kelly King said in the Attorney General’s Office statement, "I respect the judge’s verdict, but I am disappointed. As she stated in the hearing, if any case deserves the death penalty, this is the case. Justice has been too long coming for these victims and their families. I can only hope the families can now put this part of these horrific crimes behind them and move forward with their lives."