Danica Baxter, 25, Nazyiah, Zariyah and Reighnn died after Danica’s estranged husband, Glenn, 27(not pictured), drove her SUV into a lake. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help cover funeral expenses for the family.
Danica Baxter, 25, Nazyiah, Zariyah and Reighnn died after Danica’s estranged husband, Glenn, 27(not pictured), drove her SUV into a lake. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help cover funeral expenses for the family.

By Floyd Alvin Galloway
Special to the NNPA News Wire from the Arizona Informant

Tempe, Ariz., police are calling the death of five family members on October 18, a murder-suicide. According to police, Glenn Baxter, 27, deliberately drove his estranged wife’s silver SUV into Tempe Town Lake, after midnight.

“We still don’t know what happened inside that vehicle, but what we do know is Mr. Baxter took deliberate action in driving his family into that lake,” said Lt. Mike Pooley of the Tempe Police Department during the press conference. “This was not an accident.”

According to surveillance video and eyewitness accounts, Baxter drove the silver Nissan Armada down the walk way on the northeast side of the lake near Rural Road bridge. During the press conference, Poole said that Baxter drove down the embankment, got out of the SUV walks towards the lake, gets back into the SUV, backs up then drives forward down the path at a high rate of speed and makes a sharp left and flips the vehicle upside down into the lake.

Witnesses on the south side of the lake saw the incident and called 911. The witnesses then drove around the lake and jumped in pulled out, Baxter’s wife, Danica, 25. Police and fire personnel pulled Baxter and two of the children out. The third child, 3 year-old Reighn, was not discovered until later, still strapped in his car seat in the last row in the vehicle.

News reports indicate that Glenn and Danica were having marital problems and were living separately, because of the Glenn’s severe anger issues before the tragedy. A makeshift memorial of candles, stuffed animals and wilting flowers line the site where the vehicle plunged into the lake. SUV skid marks are still visible on the low concrete wall.

According to reports Baxter, was distraught and spiraling into dangerous depression, over his wife’s plans to divorce him and had previously made threats, saying he would kill his family if she left him. The couple had been married for three years. No one knows why Danica agreed to meet with Baxter late at night. She had considered dropping the children off at an aunt’s house, but changed her mind. Authorities are not sure if her husband led her to change her mind.

“I believe he forced her to go with him,” said Monika Nathan, a longtime family friend. Nathan was Danica’s high school counselor. The two remained close and Danica considered Nathan her second mother. Nathan, a minister officiated the couples’ wedding.

“There was no way she would have left that late at night with the babies.”

Baxter drove his car over to Danica’s townhome and they were in her SUV when the incident happened, Nathan. Said. A gun was found in the vehicle, but according to Poole, was not discharged.

The Baxters had been separated since the beginning of the year, according to Nathan. She didn’t find out until later the couple was having troubles and tried to help, but was not aware of the severity of the alleged abuse.

She noted Baxter needed help. No one really got involved until it was too late, Nathan said, adding that anger and abuse are illnesses that need to be addressed.

“People need to be taught what love is and what it is not,” said Nathan. “Danica was a beautiful person. She did everything for those children.”

Bessie Britt, Danica’s grandmother, echoed Nathan’s sentiments.

“Danica was the love of my life, my oldest granddaughter. Those children were her life,” said Britt.

Britt said that everyone her granddaughter came in contact with became a friend.

Britt continued: “Everyone loved her. She was very outgoing and caring and very responsible person for being so young.”

Britt’s daughter, Tamika Franklin also commended her niece’s level of maturity.

“Yes, [Danica] was a very loving and caring person, and did everything for her kids,” Franklin said.

According to Franklin, Glenn could be very moody at times, but the family didn’t have any indication about the level of abuse that may have occurred. “They hid very well.”

The murder-suicide incident has sent shock waves across the country, with domestic violence and crisis organizations calling on individuals to seek help and take threats seriously.

A vigil was held at Tempe Beach Park Sunday afternoon to remember the slain mother and children.

“So many people came out and showed their support and that they cared,” Britt said.

Britt’s daughter -in-law, Collette Pierson, the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence and Fem Static Zine, a feminist group, organized the vigil. Over 100 individuals participated in the vigil.

A heartbreaking tragedy like this domestic-violence incident effects families and friends on both sides, leaving love ones to wonder what could they have done to prevent such a horrific incident from happening.

While many in the Black community believe that suicide is a “White person’s issue,” more and more research is finding that suicide rates among African-Americans are on the rise, especially among young, Black men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death among African-American males between ages 15 and 24, behind homicide and accidents. Suicide death rates among Black men are five times that of Black women. There are several resources available to those contemplating suicide and violence.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help cover funeral expenses for the family.


Freddie Allen is the National News Editor for the NNPA News Wire and BlackPressUSA.com. 200-plus Black newspapers. 20 million readers. You should follow Freddie on Twitter and Instagram @freddieallenjr.

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