Friends of Merced killer say he showed signs of depression

By Kim Baca The Associated Press
Thursday March 28, 2002

MERCED — Casey Simmons said she worried about her friend and employee, John Patrick Hogan, last year when he sent her an e-mail that may have indicated Hogan was in trouble. 

“Today is Bud’s birthday,” Hogan wrote on March 7, 2001, talking about his daughter Michelle’s fourth birthday. “I said goodbye for the last time and I probably won’t see her again.” 

“I thought he was going to harm himself,” Simmons said. “Never did it occur to me that he would hurt another human being.” 

Hogan, 49, a retired sheriff’s deputy, fatally shot his 5-year-old daughter and his three teen-age stepchildren before killing himself Tuesday while his ex-wife was jogging, investigators said. 

Police on Wednesday were still trying to piece together events that led to the brutal killing and determine how Hogan entered Christine McFadden’s house. A back door was open, but there were no signs of forced entry, police said. 

Police have not disclosed typed letters found in the master bedroom, but said Wednesday the letters detailed feelings Hogan had about his marriage and contained passages from the Bible. 

“He was upset and disgruntled about the marital breakup,” sheriff’s commander Mark Pazin said. “He was hoping there was going to be a reconciliation in their relationship. Evidently he realized that it was not going to happen.” 

Police were trying to contact Hogan’s family, but had only found a brother. Pazin said Hogan was originally from Santa Clara County. 

Calls to McFadden’s veterinary clinic were referred to her lawyer, Neil Morse, who did not immediately return calls Wednesday. 

Simmons said Hogan, despondent after the breakup of the marriage, quit working for her as a private investigator in February 2001. 

“He worked with hundreds of children charged with crimes,” said Simmons, a juvenile defense lawyer. “He’d spent a lot of time talking with the kids trying to help them.” 

In the past year, neighbors said they often saw Hogan carrying fishing gear, and that he could be seen with his daughter while packing a white plastic chair to take her on his fishing trips. Friends said Michelle, who died in her father’s arms, looked like her dad. She celebrated her fifth birthday three weeks ago. 

Hogan married McFadden in December 1995 two years after she divorced Thomas Willis, according to court documents. She claimed in an application for a restraining order against Hogan that he was verbally abusive and used foul language around the children, according to papers in Merced Family Law Court. 

McFadden had three children with Willis, Melanie, 17, Stanley, 15, and Stuart, 14, who were also killed by Hogan. 

Willis, who has two children from his current marriage, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A call left for a family spokeswoman was not returned. 

Willis in 1996 filed a temporary restraining order against McFadden after he said McFadden had showed “an increasing pattern of aggressive behavior.” 

“She has no restraint and wants total involvement in my life, which causes me severe and emotional trauma and anxiety,” Willis wrote in court documents. “She will not leave me or my wife alone.” 

Hogan retired as a deputy in 1993 for undisclosed medical reasons after 10 years on the force, said Terrance Helm of the Santa Clara sheriff’s department.