The maternal grandmother of the 14-year-old Alabama boy who allegedly confessed to fatally shooting his five family members — including a 6-month-old stepbrother — says she must find the will to forgive the boy, even though he upended her entire world.
“We are going to love him,” Denise Prater tells AL.com in a riveting interview. “Our attitude is he must be scared out of his mind and will realize all of a sudden what he did. … We did not see a bad child. We did not see a child who was going to do this.”
Prater explains to AL.com she was home in Louisiana on Labor Day when she saw a news alert about a 14-year-old boy in Elkmont, Alabama, killing his entire family.
She frantically turned to CNN, and watched in horror as footage rolled of police patrol cars pulling into the driveway of her daughter’s home, with police tape encircling the scene.
According to police, the teen allegedly killed his father, John Sisk, 38, and his stepmother, Mary Sisk, 35. Mary was Prater’s daughter.
The teen also allegedly killed the couple’s three younger children — Kane, 6, Rorrie, 5, and 6-month-old Colson. All of them, Prater says in the AL.com interview, died from gunshots wounds to the head while they slept.
“It breaks my heart,” the grandmother confides to AL.com, saying she’s comforted by the fact the family died as they lived — together.
“Heaven has gained what we have lost here on Earth,” she says. “We feel the empty holes in our hearts, but they will always be with us. They’re together and for that we are thankful to God.”
The accused teen has not been named, but was formally adopted by Mary Sisk late last year. However, Prater claims it wasn’t until recently that the boy discovered Mary was not his biological mother, who had allegedly abandoned him when he was 3 and died in Indiana in 2011.
“Mary was never his stepmother. [He] was always her son, always my grandson,” Prater explains. “We never said ‘step.’ Mary was the best thing that ever happened to [him]. He loved being in our family. He was always ours.”
Prater tells AL.com Mary so loved the boy, she dyed her light hair dark, so he wouldn’t feel different from his blonde siblings.
Police still have not revealed a motive for the murders. It is unclear if the teen has an attorney or has appeared before a judge to plead to the five murder counts he faces.
“He was going through the pain and angst of being a 14-year-old boy. What we saw was a 14-year-old trying to grow into adulthood with three young siblings,” Prater says. “But this never would have entered our minds. He was a good kid. His friends are also shocked.”
Private funerals were held for the five victims over the weekend. The family was buried in four coffins — Colson, cradled in his mother’s arms in their casket.
“You can accept [the deaths of] the adults a little, maybe, but the little ones, the little babies, are what killed us,” Prater says.
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At this point, Prater has not met with the teen suspect but says she will soon.
“We have nothing but love for him,” she explains.