East Texas mother shot, killed while cooking dinner

By Jena Johnson - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KLTV) - Murder took place in a quiet Nacogdoches neighborhood. While preparing dinner for her two children, Melissa Barnhill was shot and killed. The Barnhill family was new to the neighborhood, which is one reason neighbors did not know what to think when gunshots rang out.

"I heard loud gunshots that sounded like a riffle or a shotgun," said neighbor Jared Sparks.

"They (police) were called in reference to a shooting," said Sgt. Greg Sowell. "Upon arrival, they found a victim dead that identified as a woman who died a single gunshot wound."

Although police would not name a suspect, court documents show that Melissa was in the midst of a nasty divorce. A Nacogdoches judge issued a protective order to keep Melissa and her children safe from her husband, Kyle Barnhill. Melissa showed the court threatening text messages Kyle had sent her.

One was particularly alarming.

"We need to talk about and decide who would raise our kids in the event of the unthinkable," said the message. "[It was] stupid not to have arranged that."

Up until a few weeks ago, the Barnhills lived in the quiet neighborhood - before Melissa filed for divorce and moved out with the kids. One neighbor said Melissa was working all the time.

"She worked at the hospital all the time and when they was down here at the house she was outside with the girls, working and cleaning flower beds and that kind of stuff, they kept a real neat place," said Kenneth Shotwell.

Shotwell said he really didn't get to know Kyle Barnhill.

"He was [a] quiet and distant fellow to me," said Shotwell.

Kyle's last job was at Pasado's in Nacogdoches as a night manager. He recently applied for a sales job at KTRE. During the interview he said he wanted a day job so he could spend more time with his family. Shotwell said he never expected something like this.

"It kind of bothers you, you know, that something this close from home happens to you like people like that right down the street from you, which I know it's happening all around the country now, but it hits close to home when it happens three or four houses next to you," said Shotwell.

Nacogdoches police said they were aware of the Barnhill's ongoing domestic problems. Police said they have interviewed Kyle Barnhill. At this time police stress that no one has been ruled out as a suspect.