Court document in 1998 killing sheds light on triple homicide suspect

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - While the legal wheels turn to bring John Dalton Jr. back to Omaha to face charges of killing his parents and his niece, a court document related to an earlier killing outline family conflicts that led up to the 1998 death of Dalton's wife, Shannon.

Dalton is accused of Tuesday's fatal shootings of his father, John W. Dalton Sr., 70; his mother, Jean Dalton, 65, and his niece, Leonna Dalton-Phillip, 18.

He was quickly identified as a suspect in the case and arrested Wednesday on the run near Jackson, Tennessee.

Long before the Tuesday night gunfire that put John Dalton Jr. back in the eyes of law enforcement, Dalton had served 11 years in prison for the death of his wife Shannon nearly 20 years ago.

He was initially accused of Second Degree Murder in that case and eventually reached a plea deal, admitting to the killing in their home in front of their children. Dalton said the gun had gone off accidentally. He was released 11 years after he was imprisoned.

As police investigated the death of Shannon Dalton in 1998, they believed that Shannon was about to leave her husband.

An affidavit from from that case suggests family frictions that extended beyond marital discord under the suspect's roof.

Omaha Police got the call that led to the discovery of Shannon Dalton's body in the Dalton home at 3489 Ruggles shortly after 2 a.m. on September 7, 1998. Her body was on the living room floor in a large pool of blood. She had been shot in the head.

According to an affidavit from that case, Shannon Dalton had been to the home of John Dalton's parents, John Sr. and Jean, the day before, in the early afternoon. That was at 3912 N. 37th Street. The Daltons told investigators that Shannon had said that her husband, John Jr., was again accusing her of having an affair with his father, John Sr.

John Dalton Sr. then phoned his son and confronted him about the accusations. When that conversation concluded, Shannon said she felt confident enough to return home. The three of them prayed and Shannon left.

According to the affidavit, Jean Dalton went to the Ruggles address a few hours later, just before dark, to check on Shannon and her son, John Jr. He refused to let her inside but Jean said Shannon used hand gestures in a window, indicating Dalton had a gun. Jean spoke with the children at their bedroom window and one of them also indicated Dalton had a gun.

While Jean was at the Ruggles house, John Dalton Sr. said he became worried and drove to the Ruggles address. The elder Daltons pleaded with John Jr. to open the door and to stop making "unfounded" accusations against Shannon. John Sr. and his wife Jean eventually left.

They said their son called them around 10 p.m. that Sunday night and he appeared to be in better spirits.

According to the affidavit, approximately three-and-a-half hours later, John Dalton Jr. called his cousin, Fonzo Williams, at 1:41 a.m. Monday. Williams later told investigators that Dalton asked him to come over. Williams said he arrived 10 minutes later. He saw blood, then what appeared to be Shannon Dalton's body. Dalton was not there. Williams called 9-1-1.