Neighbors say they knew of slain family's troubled history

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HOUSTON (AP) -- Neighbors of a family fatally shot in a Houston home were aware the household had problems, including a history of domestic violence, and worried about the six children who lived there.

Carlos Sanchez, 40, who lived across the street from the family, recalled once finding the oldest child, 13-year-old Nathaniel, after dark on a street in the neighborhood. The teenager said he was running away. Sanchez took the boy home but was surprised by the reaction of the father, David Conley, after telling him his son had tried to run away.

SEE ALSO: Texas official: Woman among 8 killed had texted mom for help

Conley "didn't say nothing. He just looked at me. The kid went inside," Sanchez said. "(Conley) was already in a different world."

Conley, who has a violent criminal history, faces capital murder charges after his arrest Saturday for the deaths of Nathaniel; his five siblings, 10-year-old Dewayne, 11-year-old Honesty, 9-year-old Caleb, 7-year-old Trinity; and 6-year-old Jonah; their mother, Valerie Jackson, 40; and her husband, DeWayne Jackson, 50.

Photos from the horrific scene in Texas:

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Houston Texas mass shooting, 8 dead
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Neighbors say they knew of slain family's troubled history
A hearses arrive at Fallbrook Church, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, carrying the caskets of a couple and six children killed in an Aug. 8 mass shooting in Houston. David Conley, the father of one of the children, faces capital murder charges from the shooting. Killed in the Aug. 8 shooting were: Conley's former domestic partner, 40-year-old Valerie Jackson; her husband, 50-year-old Dwayne Jackson; 13-year-old Nathaniel, 11-year-old Honesty, 10-year-old Dwayne, 9-year-old Caleb, 7-year-old Trinity and 6-year-old Jonah. Authorities say Nathaniel was Conley's son with Valerie Jackson. (Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Members of the Jackson family arrive for a memorial service at Fallbrook Church, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, inHouston for a couple and six children killed in a mass shooting Aug. 8 in northwest Harris County. David Conley, the father of one of the children, faces capital murder charges from the shooting. Killed in the Aug. 8 shooting were Conley's former domestic partner, 40-year-old Valerie Jackson, her husband, 50-year-old Dwayne Jackson; 13-year-old Nathaniel, 11-year-old Honesty, 10-year-old Dwayne, 9-year-old Caleb, 7-year-old Trinity and 6-year-old Jonah. Authorities say Nathaniel was Conley's son with Valerie Jackson. The Jacksons were the parents of the other five children. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP )

The procession of hearses arrive for a memorial service at Fallbrook Church, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in Houstonfor a couple and six children killed in an Aug. 8 mass shooting in northwest Harris County. David Conley, the father of one of the children, faces capital murder charges from the shooting. Killed in the Aug. 8 shooting were: Conley's former domestic partner, 40-year-old Valerie Jackson; her husband, 50-year-old Dwayne Jackson; 13-year-old Nathaniel, 11-year-old Honesty, 10-year-old Dwayne, 9-year-old Caleb, 7-year-old Trinity and 6-year-old Jonah. Authorities say Nathaniel was Conley's son with Valerie Jackson. The Jacksons were the parents of the other five children. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP )
David Conley is led into court to make his first court appearance Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, in Houston. Conley, who has a violent criminal history, entered a Houston home through an unlocked window and fatally shot a woman he'd previously dated, her husband and six children, including a boy believed to be his own son, authorities said. He is charged with capital murder in the deaths (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A house is shown, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, where eight people were killed on Saturday in Houston. A family of six children and two parents were handcuffed and fatally shot in the head at a Houston home by a man with a violent criminal history who had previously been in a relationship with the mother and had a dispute with her, authorities said Sunday. David Conley, 48, was charged with capital murder in the deaths. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
People place flowers and balloons at a house, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, where eight people were killed on Saturday in Houston. A family of six children and two parents were handcuffed and fatally shot in the head at a Houston home by a man with a violent criminal history who had previously been in a relationship with the mother and had a dispute with her, authorities said Sunday. David Conley, 48, was charged with capital murder in the deaths. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A sign sits against the door Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, as part of the condolences left outside the home where eight people were shot over the weekend in Houston. David Conley, who has a violent criminal history, entered the Houston home through an unlocked window and fatally shot a woman he'd previously dated, her husband and six children, including a boy believed to be his own son, authorities said. He is charged with capital murder in the deaths (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Harris County Chief Deputy Tim Cannon speaks during a news conference in the case of David Conley, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. Eight people were found dead inside a Houston-area home following the arrest of Conley, who exchanged gunfire with police, Texas authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A body is removed from a home that was the scene of multiple fatalities and loaded onto a truck Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. Eight people, including six children and two adults, were found dead inside a Houston-area home following the arrest of a man who exchanged gunfire with police, Texas authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A house is shown, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, where eight people were killed on Saturday in Houston. A family of six children and two parents were handcuffed and fatally shot in the head at a Houston home by a man with a violent criminal history who had previously been in a relationship with the mother and had a dispute with her, authorities said Sunday. David Conley, 48, was charged with capital murder in the deaths. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
The mug shot of suspect David Conley is shown on a video screen as Harris County Chief Deputy Tim Cannon, right, speaks during a news conference Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. Eight people, including five children and three adults, were found dead inside a Houston-area home following the arrest of Conley, who exchanged gunfire with police, Texas authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Harris County Chief Deputy Tim Cannon speaks during a news conference in the case of David Conley Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. Eight people were found dead inside a Houston-area home following the arrest of Conley, who exchanged gunfire with police, Texas authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Flowers and eight balloons are seen at a house, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, where eight people were killed on Saturday in Houston. A family of six children and two parents were handcuffed and fatally shot in the head at a Houston home by a man with a violent criminal history who had previously been in a relationship with the mother and had a dispute with her, authorities said Sunday. David Conley, 48, was charged with capital murder in the deaths. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A note is taped to a shoe box Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, sitting among the condolences left outside the home where eight people were shot over the weekend in Houston. David Conley, who has a violent criminal history, entered the Houston home through an unlocked window and fatally shot a woman he'd previously dated, her husband and six children, including a boy believed to be his own son, authorities said. He is charged with capital murder in the deaths (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
People place flowers and balloons at a house, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, where eight people were killed on Saturday in Houston. A family of six children and two parents were handcuffed and fatally shot in the head at a Houston home by a man with a violent criminal history who had previously been in a relationship with the mother and had a dispute with her, authorities said Sunday. David Conley, 48, was charged with capital murder in the deaths. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Jaelen Charles places flowers, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, outside the home where eight people were killed on Saturday in Houston. A family of six children and two parents were handcuffed and fatally shot in the head at a Houston home by a man with a violent criminal history who had previously been in a relationship with the mother and had a dispute with her, authorities said Sunday. David Conley, 48, was charged with capital murder in the deaths. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A sign hangs on the door Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, as part of the condolences left outside the home where eight people were shot over the weekend in Houston. David Conley, who has a violent criminal history, entered the Houston home through an unlocked window and fatally shot a woman he'd previously dated, her husband and six children, including a boy believed to be his own son, authorities said. He is charged with capital murder in the deaths (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
People place flowers and balloons at a house, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, where eight people were killed on Saturday in Houston. A family of six children and two parents were handcuffed and fatally shot in the head at a Houston home by a man with a violent criminal history who had previously been in a relationship with the mother and had a dispute with her, authorities said Sunday. David Conley, 48, was charged with capital murder in the deaths. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Neighbors leave the scene of multiple fatalities found in a home on their street Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. Eight people, including six children and two adults, were found dead inside a Houston-area home following the arrest of a man who exchanged gunfire with police, Texas authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Harris County Sheriff's Department Sgt. D.J. Hilborn, left, escorts a family back to their home near the scene of a multiple shooting Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. Eight people were found dead inside a home following the arrest of David Conley, who exchanged gunfire with police, Texas authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Harris County Sheriff's Department Sgt. D.J. Hilborn, right, walks away from the scene of a multiple shooting Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. Eight people, including six children and two adults, were found dead late Saturday inside a Houston-area home following the arrest of a man who exchanged gunfire with police, Texas authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A member of the Harris County Sheriff's Department raises the crime scene tape for a vehicle outside the scene of shooting Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. Eight people, including six children and two adults, were found dead late Saturday inside a Houston-area home following the arrest of a man who exchanged gunfire with police, Texas authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Members of the Harris County Sheriff's department work outside the scene of a shooting Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. At least eight people, including six children and two adults, were found dead late Saturday inside a Houston-area home following the arrest of a man who exchanged gunfire with police, Texas authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

In this image made from a video, police arrest a man after he surrendered Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. According to authorities the bodies of multiple people including several children were found inside a Houston home following his arrest. (Photo via AP Video)

In this image made from a video, authorities investigate after reports of an active shooter in a home Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. According to authorities the bodies of multiple people including several children were found inside the home following the arrest of a man who surrendered. (Photo via AP Video)

In this image made from a video, authorities investigate after reports of an active shooter in a home Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. According to authorities the bodies of multiple people including several children were found inside the home following the arrest of a man who surrendered. (Photo via AP Video)

In this image made from a video, police arrest a man after he surrendered Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. According to authorities the bodies of multiple people including several children were found inside a Houston home following his arrest. (Photo via AP Video)

In this image made from a video, authorities investigate after reports of an active shooter in a home Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Houston. According to authorities the bodies of multiple people including several children were found inside the home following the arrest of a man who surrendered. (Photo via AP Video)

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Conley, 48, stood handcuffed and shackled and said little during his first court appearance Monday. His court appointed attorney, Joseph Scardino, didn't return a phone call seeking comment.

The family members were all shot in the head. Nathaniel was believed to be Conley's son from his relationship with Valerie Jackson; the other children were Valerie and Dewayne Jackson's.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said authorities were alerted to what was happening in the family's home on Saturday when Valerie Jackson sent a text to her mother, who lives in another state, saying she was being held at gunpoint.

Deputies forced their way into the home later Saturday but retreated after Conley fired on them. Conley eventually gave himself up, allowing deputies to enter the home and make the gruesome discovery. Most of the victims had been handcuffed and some had been shot multiple times, police have said.

"My heart goes out to that family, what they are suffering today," Anderson said.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office has said problems between Conley and Valerie Jackson might have led to the shooting. The relationship between them had recently ended.

Last month, Conley was charged with assault after allegedly pushing Valerie Jackson's head against their home's refrigerator. In 2013, Conley was charged with aggravated assault for threatening Jackson with a knife. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine months in the county jail.

Vilma Flores, 61, who was the couple's next door neighbor, said she worried about the children as they were sometimes left without adult supervision. Sanchez said he would sometimes see the youngest child, 6-year-old Jonah, playing in the street with his siblings and no adults around.

Estella Olguin, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services, said her agency had been involved with the family, but she declined to offer details.

Sanchez and other neighbors questioned why authorities didn't go into the home sooner Saturday, knowing the family's troubled history and Conley's violent criminal record. Neighbors said they saw deputies come to the home at least twice earlier in the day, knock on the front door and leave when no one answered.

Sgt. Craig Clopton, the lead investigator, said Sunday that he couldn't "reveal the exact parameters of those decisions."

"There are certain circumstances when we can make entry and certain circumstances where we can't. Even though we want to, sometimes the law prohibits that. ... It wasn't until officers looked in the window and actually saw somebody injured that the decision was made that now we have enough to go in."

Investigators have declined to say when on Saturday the victims were shot or if any were alive when deputies first tried to enter the home.

Anderson said her office hasn't yet decided whether to seek the death penalty against Conley.

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