BROKEN ARROW — The puzzle surrounding the tragic stabbing deaths of a couple and three of their children is becoming clearer, but critical information is still missing that could help to shed light on the story of the Bever family.
Several residents of the Indian Springs III subdivision in south Broken Arrow remember the family as quiet, polite and nice. Those neighbors are now trying to reconcile what little they know of the Bevers with reports that the two older brothers allegedly killed their parents and three siblings.
The family has been described as “reclusive” or “keeping to themselves.” Some say the children weren’t allowed outside often.
However, a man who lives across the street recalled David and April Bever as being loving parents.
Matt Jacobsen, 35, described April Bever, 44, as “very much a mother hen.”
“The only odd thing is they kept to themselves,” Jacobsen said. But even then, he noted, it’s not as odd these days, with kids more apt to stay inside, tied to technology.
He remembers the suspects Robert and Michael Bever as being “extremely smart, very intelligent.” The two, ages 18 and 16, respectively, shared a love of computers with their 52-year-old father, Jacobsen said. But he said he had a gut feeling that the two older brothers craved attention and probably wanted to be seen as “a little bit more normal.”
Robert Bever is held at the Tulsa Jail without bail on five complaints of first-degree murder and one count of domestic aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Michael Bever’s name has not been released by Broken Arrow police because he is a juvenile, but a Tulsa County jail employee confirmed his identity to the Tulsa World on Friday afternoon and said he was booked on the same complaints.
“That’s what’s sad — the parents loved their kids,” Jacobsen said.
Paul Mones, an Oregon-based attorney who has worked on patricide cases around the U.S., told the Tulsa World on Friday that between 1 percent and 2 percent of reported homicides in the nation are cases in which children kill their parents. Most of those deaths, he said, involve sons who kill their fathers.
“In these families, absent the homicide being done because the kids are on drugs or the kids seek significant financial gain ... there tends to be extreme dysfunction,” Mones said of past cases he has seen. He did not comment on specific circumstances surrounding the Bever family deaths but said a case where more than one family member participates in killing parents and siblings is “very, very unique.”
The most recent government study of these types of crimes, completed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Criminal Justice Reference Service, was published in 1999. It stated perpetrators are primarily white men who are middle-class and do not have a history of criminal convictions and that adults who commit such crimes often have “severe” mental-health issues.
What is known
David and April Bever, as well as Daniel Bever, 12; Christopher Bever, 7; and Victoria Bever, 5, were fatally stabbed late Wednesday inside their home in the 700 block of Magnolia Court, according to police records.
Sgt. Thomas Cooper said their 13-year-old sister was stable as of Friday afternoon after being hospitalized with multiple stab wounds. A 2-year-old was found unharmed in an upstairs room, Cooper said.
Robert and Michael Bever were arrested just before 12:20 a.m. Thursday after a K-9 dog led officers to a wooded area behind the home, he said.
Police responded to the home about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday after receiving a 911 call from a family member, who stated their brother was attacking their family. An arrest report for Robert Bever states the 13-year-old told officers her brothers attacked her and her family.
Police at first believed the girl called authorities but have since said they are unsure whether she or one of the younger brothers made the call.
Tulsa County Juvenile Division Chief District Judge Doris Fransein said Friday that neither Robert nor Michael Bever had a prior juvenile criminal record.
The two are reportedly cooperating with detectives who are investigating the case.
Matt Jacobsen, his wife, Maggie, and their two young children have lived near the Bever residence for about two years. The Bevers welcomed them to the neighborhood, and they were starting to build a rapport with the family, he said. Maggie Jacobsen recalled how David Bever placed a stork sign in their yard when she gave birth to their youngest child.
Even with neighbors’ accounts, information about the members of the Bever family remains scant outside of bits of information posted to social media profiles that belonged to David and April Bever. The family’s children were believed to have been home-schooled, though multiple home-school groups in Broken Arrow and Tulsa told the World they did not have contact with the parents or children.
Amy Dean, founder of the Cornerstone Homeschool Cooperative in Broken Arrow, was David Bever’s manager for part of the time he worked as a database administrator at Samson Resources Corp. His LinkedIn page states he worked there from September 2008 to April 2012.
“He was just a quiet guy, very nice, good-spirited,” Dean said of her experience with David Bever. “I never saw any red flags.”
Dean, who has been involved in the home-school community for four years, said she did not see or hear of any association the Bevers may have had with home-school support groups.
David Bever worked for HP Enterprise Services as a technology consultant, according to his LinkedIn page.
April Bever’s Facebook profile routinely discussed issues related to raising a child who was born prematurely. She also posted comments on websites and blogs, some of which were religious in nature, when they held giveaways.
Most recently, she posted information last June about a nonprofit called Autumn Hope Inc., which she said she created in her daughter’s name to raise money for others with prematurely born or otherwise ill children.
Autumn Bever is believed to be the 2-year-old who was unharmed in the attack.
An official with MicahTek, a call center less than five minutes from the Bevers’ home, said Robert Bever was employed there for a brief time but did not work there at the time of the attacks. Several employees on break outside MicahTek on Friday declined to speak about Robert Bever.
April Bever had been her neighborhood association’s president for a brief stretch a few years ago before stepping down, saying she was too busy to continue the work, said Frank Mays, a neighborhood association regent.
The magnitude of what occurred at the Bever home this week has not only shocked their neighbors but also those who responded to the crime scene.
Broken Arrow — a city of just more than 100,000 people — typically sees one or two homicides a year. The Broken Arrow Police Department called in the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to assist the agency with the case.
A post on the Broken Arrow Police Department’s Facebook page on Thursday included a reflection from Sgt. Eric Nester, who emphasized that Broken Arrow is a safe community where random home invasions are “unheard of.”
“Almost all violent crime in BA is domestic related, or the victim knows the suspect,” the post read. “While these events happen, it shouldn’t scare the average citizen. ... BA doesn’t have nearly the random violent crime as other areas.”