NEW ORLEANS – Makayla Middleton was an outgoing 2-year-old who loved to dance, loved to dress up and loved being on camera.
But the last picture taken of Makayla was on Saturday, while she got her first haircut on a weekend visit with her father.
“I said ‘Oh, so cute. I can't wait to see her come home.’ She didn't come home. So I went and got her,” said Makayla’s mother, Kellie Smith.
When Kellie Smith hadn't heard from her daughter by Monday, she went to check up. What she found will haunt her forever.
Makayla and her father, Jacob Middleton Sr., 35, were dead inside his Covington area home, each with a single gunshot wound to the head.
“I moved her hair and I saw the bullet hole, and in order to breath I just kept screaming, and I couldn't scream and I just kept screaming and I couldn't form words and I kept asking her to wake up. I kept trying her to wake up,” said Smith, tearing up. “She didn't wake up.”
Investigators say Jacob Middleton, Jr., 17, confessed to killing his father and half-sister. He is being held without bond on two counts of first-degree murder. He told detectives he hated his father for what he claimed were years of abuse and family violence.
Indeed, St. Tammany Parish deputies have been to the home for previous domestic violence and mental illness calls, but Smith says Jacob Middleton, Sr. was never aggressive toward her.
“Everything they keep putting about their tumultuous past and the violence and all that, it was the ex-wife he used to have. It had nothing to do with me at all,” said Smith.
Smith said she suspected Middleton's son from the moment she told him about the murder.
“[He] didn't cry or nothing, it was, 'Oh, I think he owed somebody money around the corner,'” said Smith.
Now, Smith's family is left wondering why.
“Why would you hurt your own flesh and blood?” asked Lucille Impastato, Makayla’s aunt. “My heart just hurts so much.”
“It's going to be very hard to live without her,” said Makayla's aunt, Valerie Hildestad.
It will be especially hard for Smith, who is praying for justice and yearning for her little girl.
“Wake up and come home,” said Smith. “I love you so much.”
Makayla's family is having trouble paying for unexpected funeral expenses.
If you would like to help, you can go to any Capitol One Branch and donate to the memorial fund for Makayla Christine Middleton.