A woman whose Army veteran brother murdered their parents before shooting himself after a lengthy battle with PTSD has recalled the heart-breaking moment she learned that her entire family was dead.
Danielle Lear, 43, from Pennsylvania, had planned to meet for drinks with her brother Jesse Northrup, then 32, on that day in June 2019 – but he failed to show up. Instead, she received a devastating call from her aunt who told her that he had murdered their mother, Candy Bidlack, then 60, step-dad, Edwin Bidlack, then 54, and family friend, Johnnie Johnson, then 48, and was holed up inside their family home.
Mother-of-four Danielle rushed to her parents’ home, where she pleaded with Jesse to give himself up. Moments later, he sent her a text message reading ‘hey’ before turning the gun on himself.
Now, Danielle is speaking out about the horrific murder-suicide that claimed her closest relatives in the hopes of raising awareness about the dangers of PTSD – and the need for more support for soldiers and veterans who are suffering from it.
She insists that her brother was not ‘an evil monster’, but instead the tragic product of a system that failed to offer him the help he so desperately needed.
Devastating: Pennsylvania mother-of-four Danielle Lear is speaking out about the horrific moment her brother murdered their parents (pictured with Danielle) and then killed himself
Troubled: Army veteran Jesse Northrup (pictured) shot his mother in the face, killed his step-dad ‘execution style’ and then turned the gun on himself after a decade-long battle with PTSD
Together: Danielle (pictured with her brother in a childhood photo) insists Jesse was not ‘evil’ but rather a ‘ticking time bomb’ who didn’t get the help or support he needed
‘My brother isn’t an evil monster,’ the customer advisor said. ‘He wasn’t well and it wasn’t his fault. I miss my family every day – including Jesse.’
Jesse joined the Army in 2007 at the age of 19 and began his training in Columbus, Georgia, miles away from his Pennsylvania home.
Danielle – who says her brother was her ‘best friend’ – explained that Jesse’s mental health struggles began early on during his time in the Army, when his roommate shot himself dead in front of him, leaving him devastated and traumatized.
Forgiveness: The 43-year-old (pictured recently) is calling on the military to do ‘more’ to help personnel with PTSD
‘Mom [phoned and] said Jesse’s roommate had shot himself dead,’ Danielle recalled. ‘I couldn’t believe it. I quickly called Jesse and he said how he’d done it right in front of him. He was hysterical.
‘I tried to calm him down, but deep down, I wondered how anyone could get over something so traumatic.’
After that, Danielle says she noticed changes in Jesse’s moods.
‘He’d always been chilled, but after that, our phone calls were fraught with anger,’ she said. ‘Mom, dad and I were really worried about him.’
Two years later, in 2009, Jesse was diagnosed with PTSD and prescribed anti-depressants.
Later that same year, he left the Army, moved back in with his parents and got a job at a local butcher.
‘After that, my kids and I went over for dinner every Sunday,’ Danielle explained.
But while Jesse had received an official diagnosis and was undergoing treatment for his condition, Danielle says he continued to struggle with the symptoms of his PTSD for a decade after leaving the army.
‘Over the years, Jesse would be happy, other times, he’d hide under the covers in his room,’ she revealed. ‘He still had periods of depression.’
Danielle continued to pay regular visits to her parents and brother, and in June 2019, the day before her family’s horrific deaths, she took her kids to visit them – and arranged to spend the following evening with Jesse.
‘Best friends’: Growing up, Danielle says she and Jesse were inseparable, however her brother started to noticeably change after his Army roommate shot himself in front of him in 2007
Struggle: Danielle (pictured with her mother Candy Bidlack) says the incident left Jesse traumatized – and she believes he never recovered
Gone: Jesse, who was diagnosed with PTSD in 2009, was honorably discharged from the Army soon after – ten years before he killed his parents Cindy and Edwin Bidlack (pictured)
Crime scene: According to reports, Jesse shot his mom in the face in a camper van at their home (left), then murdered his dad ‘execution style’ in the garage, before killing a family friend
‘After we ate, our parents built a bonfire in the garden with the kids,’ she recalled. ‘Meanwhile, Jesse and I sat on the porch, chatting. We organized to go out for drinks the next night and Jesse said he’d pick me up.
‘Then, he told me he might be getting fired. I asked him why and he said he’d explain the next day.’
But, the next evening, Jesse never showed.
‘I tried calling him but there was no answer,’ Danielle said. ‘I thought it was strange. Then, I got a call from my aunt. She screamed, “They’re all dead.”
Warning: It was later revealed that Jesse’s final Facebook post before the murder-suicide was a picture of a ‘military grade’ handgun (pictured)
‘I was so confused and asked who she was talking about. She said she was at my parent’s house. My heart sank. I thought there must’ve been a fire or a gas leak.’
Danielle rushed to her parents’ home, where she found the property surrounded by armed police officers who had their guns pointed at the bathroom window.
‘They said Jesse was inside and that he’d killed everyone, including our family friend, Johnnie,’ she revealed. ‘I was in such shock. I began screaming for Jesse to come outside.’
It was then that Jesse sent her his final message, a text that simply read: ‘Hey.’
‘Before I could reply, a loud gunshot fired from the bathroom,’ she said. ‘I fell to the floor.’
Police stormed the house and minutes later, an officer informed Danielle that Jesse had shot himself. Soon after, she learned exactly how her parents had been killed, with cops revealing that her brother had shot their mother in the face, and then murdered their father ‘execution style’ in the garage.
It was also revealed that Jesse had posted a picture of a ‘military grade’ handgun on Facebook – his final upload before he killed his parents and himself.
‘I soon discovered that earlier that day, Jesse found mom in the camper-van,’ Danielle explained. ‘He shot her in the face. Then, he found our dad in the garage and shot him, execution style.
Signs: It was also discovered that Jesse (pictured with his father Edwin during his time in the Army) had stopped taking his medication and had been fired from his job
Forgiveness: Danielle insists that she doesn’t blame her brother (pictured with their dad), who she describes as a ‘ticking time bomb’
‘In just a few hours, I’d lost my entire family,’ she said of her brother (pictured). ‘But I wasn’t angry at Jesse. My heart broke for him’
Backlash: Danielle, pictured with her children at her brother’s funeral, received vile messages of hate online, with trolls branding Jesse an ‘evil murderer’
‘Then, he went into the basement and shot Johnnie the same way. Jesse then ran upstairs and hid in the bathroom, before shooting himself.’
Danielle then had to watch on as the police ‘hauled body bags’ from their family home, which she says was covered in blood.
‘Watching the police haul body bags from the house, I couldn’t breathe,’ she recalled. ‘I ran inside the house and everywhere I looked, there was blood.’
Despite losing both of her parents at the hands of her brother, Danielle insists that she ‘wasn’t angry’ at Jesse, but rather ‘heartbroken’ over the tragic loss of her loved ones – and the pain that her sibling had experienced for so long.
‘In just a few hours, I’d lost my entire family,’ she said. ‘But I wasn’t angry at Jesse. My heart broke for him.’
During the next few weeks, Danielle organized the funerals for her family members – an experience that was made all the more difficult by the vile messages she received about her brother online.
‘People kept saying how Jesse was a sick, evil murderer,’ she revealed . ‘Reporters also discovered one of Jesse’s last Facebook posts was a picture of a gun. It really hurt me.
‘Not long after, I learnt Jesse had already lost his job and hadn’t been taking his medication. Without it, he was a ticking time bomb. He wasn’t in his right mind, he was mentally unwell.
‘I know Jesse loved our parents very much. I feel so sad that I couldn’t help my little brother. I miss them all every day.’
Now, Danielle is calling on the military to do more to help soldiers and veterans who suffer from PTSD, saying: ‘I really hope more help will be given to military personnel who suffer from PTSD.’