Robert and Michael Bever: The Broken Arrow Massacre
There is not a more devastating atrocity in this world than child abuse. Violence experienced in childhood can have all manner of psychological effects in the long term. Post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and dissociative disorder are just a few of the long term effects that can be faced by an adult that has experienced violence in their formative years. In some cases, it can lead to much deeper problems. While many victims of child abuse grow up into healthy, functioning members of society, others face violence so severe it's hard for them to rebound. Some end up carrying out the abuse they've seen or suffered, and some do much worse.
The Bever family had been an oddly quiet bunch before the summer of 2015. David Bever, the patriarch, had worked for HP Enterprise Services as an information technology consultant. His wife, April, was a stay-at-home mother. The seven Bever children were home-schooled and didn't socialize much outside of the house. Neighbors didn't think much of the quiet, unassuming family living on Magnolia Court in Broken Arrow. Though this was the largest suburb in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it had the lowest crime rate at just 66% lower than the surrounding areas. All of this just made the events that took place inside the Bever home on the night of July 22 all the more shocking.
According to Ryan Becker, author of True Crime Stories, at around 11:30 that night, 911 received a call from a panic-stricken young girl. She stated to the dispatcher that her brother was killing her family as terrified screams echoed in the background. Before the dispatcher could get any information from the girl, the line went dead. They were able to trace the call back to the address 709 Magnolia Court. Officers were quickly dispatched, racing to the scene.
When police arrived, they noticed blood on the front porch of the family's home. They drew their guns and cautiously entered the residence. They immediately found 13-year-old Crystal Bever lying on the floor. She was painfully suffering multiple stab wounds to her stomach and arms. The poor, young teenage girl had also had her throat slit. Though her wounds were severe, she was still alive. Crystal was taken to the hospital, where she would later give her statement once she was able to speak again.
Officers quickly discovered the rest of the Bever family afterward. A little further into the home they found 52-year-old David Bever with 28 stab wounds to his face, neck, torso, and arms. His wife, 44-year-old April, was found beside him. She seemed to be the focus of the attack with 48 stab wounds all over her body and head. She was also found to have suffered blunt force trauma as well. Nearby, the three middle children were found. Daniel Bever, only 12-years-old, sustained 9 stab wounds to his back, shoulder, and chest. His little brother and sister, 7-year-old Christopher and 5-year-old Victoria, were discovered along with him. Christopher had been stabbed 9 times in the back, chest, shoulder, and lower leg, while Victoria had been stabbed 18 times in the neck, chest, back, and upper arm.
The youngest of the children, 2-year-old Autumn Bever, was thankfully unharmed. The terrified toddler was curled into a corner of her bedroom when officers found her. She was taken directly to a nearby hospital. According to True Crime Stories, the small child was listed as being in serious, but stable condition. Once the surviving victims were taken from the house, a canine unit was brought in to check around the scene. The two oldest Bever boys, 18-year-old Robert and 16-year-old Michael, were found hiding in a heavily wooded area beside the house. The brothers were immediately taken into custody.
Once Crystal was able to speak again, authorities rushed to her bedside for a statement. She painted a very disturbing picture of a household teeming with dysfunction and abuse. Though the Bever family was financially secure and living in a nice home, things were not as they appeared from the outside. David was a physically and verbally abusive man, beating all the members of his family into submission as he spewed hatred at them. Crystal recalled an incident when her father had beaten her mother and slammed her head against the wall. She also told them that her oldest brothers, Robert and Michael, had endured the majority of their father's rage. Crystal's childhood had been a traumatic one as her father isolated her and her siblings from the world. Their neighbors didn't even know the family's name until it was plastered all over headlines.
According to Ryan Becker's coverage of this case in his book, Crystal revealed that her father had also thrown the children across the room on multiple occasions. She didn't only reveal shocking details about her father, but her brothers as well. She informed police that they had an unhealthy fascination with serial killers and mass shooters. They loved to see criminals like these get away with the atrocities they committed. Crystal's story gave authorities a grim look into the household that created two killers.
When police spoke with Robert he told a very similar story of an abusive household full of hatred. He said that both of his parents had been abusive, hateful people. They had referred to the Apocalypse described in The Bible as "a retribution thing for everything they hated about the world," according to Wikipedia. He not only confirmed his sister's story about the abuse, he also confirmed his and his brother's love of killers. He told police that he believed killing multiple people would make him "God-like."
Robert's statement was illuminating of the state of affairs inside the Bever home. There was no question that these children had been put through pure hell. Robert corroborated everything his younger sister and victim had already stated to police. Once he was talking, he even admitted to police that the brothers had also intended to kill their 2-year-old sister. Had police not been called, he said that they would've continued their killing spree across the country, with the goal of racking up 100 victims. Luckily, Crystal got through to 911 and was able to have her location traced from there.
As Robert continued talking, his statement only got more disturbing. Investigators quickly found that Crystal had been truthful with police in telling them how long her brothers had planned the crime. This family massacre had been years in the making, with both boys plotting and preparing their own family's demise. Robert admitted that he'd been planning to kill his parents since he was just 13-years-old, the same age as the surviving sister he attacked. He went as far as taking a job at a call center specifically to save up money for guns, bullets, knives, and body armor. With so much planning and money going into the crime, this family never stood a chance. He ordered his arsenal online and had everything shipped to a local gun shop, where he then picked it up. He had even ordered some more ammunition on the day of the murders.
Officers recovered 3000 rounds of ammunition from the home after the brothers' arrest. Wikipedia states that one of the brothers "spontaneously uttered" that the plans for their crime were stored to a flash drive, located inside the house. A second sweep of the home uncovered the flash drive. They also happened to notice that a computer and some surveillance cameras were located near to where the bodies had been found. They believed that the killings had been recorded due to the proximity of the cameras and computer from the bodies. It was later determined that they had intended to make two videos. One would be for the investigators and the prosecution to see that would feature the bodies of their family members. The other would not feature the victims and would be posted online.
Wikipedia's article on this case states the coroner's findings after the family's autopsies. They revealed "multiple sharp force trauma injuries" to all of the victims. The members of the Bever family had all passed away between the night of July 22 and the early morning of July 23. It was also found through the autopsies that April Bever had been the obvious focus of the attack. She had suffered far more injuries and brutality than the rest.
Initially, both brothers pleaded not guilty. While Michael held out for a trial by jury, Robert finally pleaded guilty. It was determined on July 25, 2015, that Michael Bever would be tried as an adult in the massacre of his family. Both brothers were charged with five counts of first-degree murder and one count of assault and battery with the intent to kill. Once Robert entered his guilty plea, he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Michael took his chances at trial and was found guilty. He was sentenced to five life sentences plus another 28 years for the assault.
As the rest of the Bever family was buried, Michael and Robert were sent to prison for the rest of their lives, and their surviving sisters were placed into foster care. The boys seemed to be serving out their sentences quietly until it was announced on July 6, 2016, that Robert Bever had been discovered attempting to hang himself by a bed sheet in his cell. A corrections officer made the discovery during a routine check and cut him down on the night of June 17, 2016. Once he was found to be uninjured, he was placed on suicide watch.
In mid-February 2017, Broken Arrow's city council announced plans to buy the old Bever home and have it torn down. They hoped to raise enough money through the Tulsa Community Foundation to be able to purchase the home from the family's mortgage holder and lending company. The end game was to have a memorial park dedicated to the family erected where their home once stood named, "The Bever Family-First Responders Memorial Park." The house ended up being destroyed by a fire on March 18, 2017. Just two years later, on March 27, 2019, Reflection Park was dedicated in an official ceremony on the spot where the house had once stood. The grassy knoll that was once the foundation of such violence and abuse now has a winding path through the greenery for visitors to walk through.
It's a devastating tragedy, what these children were forced to endure. In a day and age when precautions are in place everywhere to prevent abuse from taking place within households, David Bever still managed to use homeschooling to his advantage in evading suspicion. He managed to not only isolate his children from kids their own age, he even kept their identity secret from their neighbors. Though the neighbors knew nothing of this secretive family on Magnolia Court, they did take notice of Robert and Michael's odd behavior. Unfortunately, their behavior never warranted further investigation, so the secret was kept. That is, until the ticking time bombs that were the eldest Bever boys finally blew.