A Chicago native who moved to Texas was among the two adults and six children found dead inside a Houston home over the weekend.
Dewayne Jackson is from the South Side of Chicago and moved to Texas with his family, according to his niece Kiara Smith.
"We are all hurting, this crime is horrific,” Smith told NBC Chicago. "I think there are no words to describe how bad [it hurts] to not have them here anymore."
Jackson, along with his wife and six children, was fatally shot in the head by a man with a violent criminal history who previously had been in a contentious relationship with the mother, authorities said.
Kiara Smith says her uncle, a chef who has worked in several restaurants, was the kind of man she hopes to marry one day: a dedicated dad who wanted nothing more than to be a good father and husband.
“He would go to the moon and back for his kids, above and beyond,” Smith said. “[He would] never leave his kids’ side.”
Smith's mother and aunts called for the well-being check that led to the discovery of the bodies early Sunday morning, Smith said. The family found out about the deaths through the news.
The other victims were identified as Valerie Jackson, 40, and the couple's children Dewayne, 10; Honesty, 11; Caleb, 9; Trinity, 7; and Jonah, 6. Another boy, 13-year-old Nathaniel, who was believed to be Conley's son from a relationship with Valerie Jackson, was also killed.
A GoFundMe page created by the family of Valerie Jackson has been set up to help alleviate the burial costs associated with the large family's death.
David Conley, 48, was charged with capital murder in the deaths. Most of the victims had been handcuffed and some had been shot multiple times, said Sgt. Craig Clopton, the lead investigator for the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
"We do not — cannot — fully comprehend the motivation of an individual that would take the lives of so many innocent people. Especially the lives of the young ones," said Chief Deputy Tim Cannon of the sheriff's office. "The killer's motives appear to be related to a dispute with Valerie, who was his former domestic partner."
Conley, who is being held in Harris County Jail, didn't appear at a court hearing Sunday where an arrest affidavit was read. The judge denied him bond. Conley doesn't yet have an attorney.
Conley, who once lived in the home and had a warrant for his arrest for an assault charge, was inside the home when authorities responded, they said.
"While awaiting response for the (unit), the body of an unidentified child was observed through a window at the residence," Chief Deputy Tim Cannon of the sheriff's office said. "Deputies on scene forced entry into the home and were immediately met with gunfire. The deputies withdrew from the home ... and awaited the arrival of the" unit.
A standoff ensued for several hours between Conley and authorities until Conley surrendered, said Sgt. Craig Clopton, the lead investigator for the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators declined to say when on Saturday the victims were shot or if any victims were alive when deputies first tried to enter the home.