Amber Jackson knocked on her brother's front door Thanksgiving Day, expecting to ask why he and his family had not come to his mother's big dinner that afternoon.
Her 4-year-old nephew opened the door.
At first, the boy's words didn't register in her mind.
"My daddy is killed," he said.
Amber Jackson, 20, and her brother, Adrian Jackson, 26, were close.
They had talked by phone about 9 the night before Thanksgiving. Adrian, a local rap musician, said he was going to do some recording at a friend's studio.
Thanksgiving morning, Amber Jackson texted her brother and Jessie Foust, his 25-year-old common-law wife, but got no answer.
Adrian Jackson and Foust had been together for about three years. They met on MySpace, Amber Jackson said.
Foust, who had been a cheerleader at Junction City High School and Cowley College, was about to graduate from Wichita State University.
Adrian Jackson, his 4-year-old son, Foust and the couple's 18-month-old son lived in a white rental house at Chautauqua and Elm, near Central and Hillside. It had a "Welcome" sign out front.
On Thanksgiving afternoon, Amber Jackson and her relatives started eating at 2, without Adrian Jackson and his family.
Amber Jackson rushed through the dinner, confused by her brother's absence.
She told her mother, Iris Jackson, "Man, something's not right. I'm going to check on my bro."
Around 2:30 p.m., she drove the short distance with her 14-year-old sister and went to the door.
When her 4-year-old nephew answered her knock with, "My daddy is killed," she said, "I froze for a second.
"And I just looked down at my brother and . . . saw Jessie."
The couple's bodies were in the living room.
She told her sister to grab the boys — they appeared to be uninjured and were wearing pajamas — and take them to another room.
"I knew them seeing me freak out was going to cause them to freak out," she said.
"I was completely stunned.
"I just sat there, and I looked for probably a minute."
She screamed her brother's name.
"I wanted it to be joke," she said.
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