It was a horrendous killing spree that forever touched the communities of Dover and Russellville.
In all, there were 16 people killed.
On Dec. 28, 1987, Ronald Gene Simmons murdered two people and injured four others in a shooting spree in Russellville.
"It was tragic, but the man who did this, we got him," said Pope County Sheriff Aaron Duvall.
Duvall, then just a deputy, was one of the first on the scene as investigators continued to follow Simmons' trail of terror.
There were five family members found dead inside their Dover home, as unwrapped Christmas presents still lay under the tree.
Investigators found Simmons' wife, who had been shot, and six of his children, who were all strangled, in a pit his own children were forced to dig.
Later, deputies found Simmons' two toddler grandchildren wrapped in trash bags and hidden in the trunks of cars on the property.
Simmons had murdered his entire family over a period of days around the Christmas holiday.
"It's tough when they pull young children out of a grave like this," said Sheriff Duvall.
Sheriff Duvall was forever touched by what he saw. He is now glad only that justice was served.
"Hopefully it will never happen again," he said.
Simmons was convicted of murder in two separate trials and was sentenced to death.
"He was ready to die, he was at peace with it, he wanted it," said John Harris, one of Simmons' defense attorneys.
Harris is speaking out, he says, for the first time.
Harris says Simmons confided in him only and told him especially about the Simmons' poorly shielded secret.
"He was infatuated with his daughter," said Harris.
Simmons had fathered his own grandchild when the family lived in New Mexico. He and his family fled to Arkansas when authorities issued a warrant for incest.
Harris says by 1987, Simmons had felt his family was starting to slip away.
"I think he felt like, they are going to take him out, he's going to take them out first, I think that was his mindset," said Harris.
Harris watched as Simmons went to the death chamber in 1990.
Though he'd said all along he wanted to die, when the injection began Harris says Simmons started writhing.
"The only explanation I can find for that is that the lethal injection caused him excruciating pain or he saw something on the other side of life that he didn't like," said Harris.
But Harris says blame should be shared, because if authorities would have made an arrest, Simmons would have shed no blood.
If that was true, 16 lives and perhaps even Simmons' own could have possibly been spared.
Prosecutors at the time said they'd dropped the charges at the family's request.
But police say because of these murders, they strengthened interstate communication and now talk to each other about the warning signs of abuse and control present in the Simmons' home.