Communities across Ozarks mourn the loss of missing father, 2 sons

Some families say they saw their own kids in the children
Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 10:31 PM CST
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WARSAW, Mo. (KY3) - Communities and law enforcement agencies across the Ozarks and the entire state are devastated about the loss of a missing man and his two children.

On Tuesday, the Benton County Sheriff announced Darrell Peak and his 2 young sons, Mayson and Kaiden, died in a murder-suicide.

Work crews discovered their bodies in an old shed off of Highway 65 north of Warsaw. That shed now sits aside a handful of flowers placed to remember the lives lost.

For some who placed flowers by the shed, the two young boys reminded them of their very own children.

“I have a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old,” said Benton County resident Rebecca Davis. “And I just feel for their family.”

The ordinary wooden shed now poses as a solemn memorial. Davis said she lives just right up the road from the it.

“I drive by here everyday ,” she said. “You never think it’s gonna happen where you live but it does.”

Davis said Mayson and Kaiden brought along thoughts of her own children.

”I automatically thought if it were them or my fiance with them, and from the sounds of it he was a good man,” she said. “And a good dad.”

When Peak vanished last week, his family said they were sure he would never harm his sons. The outcome has also left its mark with those who worked so hard to find them.

”I didn’t sleep last night, and I would imagine the individuals who found the deceased did not sleep either,” Benton County Sheriff Eric Knox said. “It goes home with you at the end of the day. And my staff suffers just like anyone would.”

Those who searched say they still feel they did everything they possibly could.

“Not knowing where they were exactly, they followed up on leads where they thought they were seen,” Knox said. “They searched the area where they were. They searched all that area. And I do not know, I cannot account for the time between Saturday and Monday morning when they were found. I do not know where they were. We don’t know. We have no information on that time frame.”

Peak left his home in Pleasant Hope with his sons on Thursday. He was later spotted in a stranded car by a state trooper, telling the troopers he did not need help.

Then a Benton County deputy spotted them walking off Highway 65, suddenly disappearing when she turned around. It was Friday Peak’s family reported him missing. At that point authorities across Missouri were told to be on the watch for them.

Family and Missouri State Highway Patrol said Peak had a history of depression and suicidal thoughts.

”Society lets these people down,” Sheriff Knox said. “We do not have the proper mechanisms in place to deal with mental illness anymore. And at the state level I think there needs to be help for mental illness.”

Others feel the same concern.

”I think we need to talk about mental health more,” Davis said.

Knox also said it is an issue that he believes exists in jails across the state as well.

“What you’ll find is every county jail is full of people with mental illness that should be somewhere else besides jail,” he said. “Somebody in my jail will stay there up to six to nine months incarcerated that shouldn’t be there. They should be in a bed getting help for their mental illness. There’s just no beds available. There’s not enough money, not enough space and it needs to be fixed.”

And while flowers continue to sit along the somber spot at the shed along Highway 65, others hope the message behind them lets family know many truly are thinking of them.

”I just hope it helps the family in some way,” Davis said. “I just hope the family heals. I know it will take a while. Our hearts are with them for sure.”

Many across the state have asked why no Amber Alert was issued in this case. While local law enforcement made several attempts, they said the case did not reach certain Missouri State Highway Patrol criteria for an Amber Alert.

KY3 has reached out to MSHP to learn more about this case and why an Amber Alert was not issued. Updates will be provided as we learn more.

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