George “Jerry” Foisel was at a pet cemetery Tuesday afternoon, admiring the personalized gravestone he just purchased for his dog, PeeWee.
The dog’s death had been another blow to Foisel’s already weakened mental state, family members said. He lost his job as a computer technician contractor several months ago and found himself unemployed and unable to contribute for the first time in his life.
Foisel, 55, who lived with his sister and mother, came home from the pet cemetery later that evening. He was quiet.
“He was sitting at his computer, not talking to anyone,” said his mother, 84-year-old Mary Foisel. “I’m not sure what happened. Jerry had a hot temper. He overreacted to everything.”
Sandra Alandt, Jerry’s sister and Mary’s daughter, was in the kitchen, cutting a pizza she had bought for the family.
Mary’s 12-year-old great-grandson, Isaiah Luoma, was sitting on a couch in the living room. Alandt enjoyed helping her mother, and Isaiah was his grandmother’s frequent companion on trips to great-grandma’s house.
Without warning, Jerry Foisel left the computer, entered the bedroom and came out with a handgun. Without saying a word, he pointed the gun at Alandt and began firing, recalled Mary Foisel.
As Isaiah tried to flee from the home, Foisel turned and fired again, striking Isaiah in the back of the head, she said.
He then turned and faced his mother.
“He pointed the gun at me, and then for some reason he got as white as a sheet,” said Mary Foisel. “I’m a heavy Christian, and I think there were angels standing in front of me. He just looked at me, went to the kitchen, pulled the trigger and he was gone.
“I didn’t go in there. I called 911, laid my hands over Isaiah and prayed on him.”
Las Vegas police arrived at the home at 2449 N. Walnut Road, near Carey Avenue and Lamb Boulevard, just after 9 p.m.
The aftermath of the shooting was a gory sight for arriving officers.
Foisel and Alandt, 51, were both pronounced dead at the scene.
Isaiah was taken to University Medical Center in extremely critical condition.
His paternal grandfather, Ron Green, said Isaiah’s condition had not improved on Thursday. He was in a medically induced coma on Wednesday, and doctors were checking for brain activity late Thursday, Green said.
“They don’t have anything else they can tell us,” he said.
The incident was the latest in a rash of murder-suicides that have plagued Las Vegas the last two months.
In a two-week period in August, there were five murder-suicides. Those incidents prompted police to say the economy — for the first time since the recession begin in 2007 — is taking its toll on citizens.
Jack Levine, professor of criminology at Northeastern University and an author of several books on the psychology of murder, said Foisel’s actions greatly resemble that of a “family annihilator,” a category of murder where a depressed person feels trapped and sees no viable solution for his family.
“It may be that he (a murder suspect) feels a great sense of personal responsibility. He may be deep in debt and see no way out, and feels they’d be better off dead and can reunite for a better life in the hereafter, especially if he’s religious.”
Linda Hake said Foisel, her half-brother, had made an effort to “find Christ” in the previous year.
But soon after he started talking to a priest for guidance over the phone, he lost his job and his life took a downward spiral, she said.
“Everything evil happened to him all at once,” said Hake, 68.
Hake said Foisel often spoke about feeling helpless financially, especially after losing his job.
When the air conditioner at the house broke a few weeks ago, Foisel was unable to help his mom pay the $6,000 bill.
“Jerry never had that problem before,” Hake said.
Foisel had turned to alcohol to help combat depression in the past, she said.
Hake played an audio diary Foisel recorded in 1988, when he was in North Dakota for a job and didn’t have many friends.
Foisel was angry about his situation, and had taken to drinking nightly. He had never considered himself an alcoholic before, but speculated that he might have become one since living there, he said on the tape.
“I want to discover life again and learn how to be friendly,” he said on the tape. “I’ve become an absolute bastard living with these people. It’s indescribably awful.”
Mary Foisel described her son as a genius, with an encyclopedia for a memory. But being a genius never seemed to help Jerry live his life to the fullest, she said.
He never married, always dated older women and was “nasty” when he drank, she said.
“Geniuses are always on the verge of mental problems,” she said.
Foisel said she did not know if her son had long planned to kill his family and then himself. But he had made arrangements with a funeral home to be cremated after he died and have his ashes buried at the pet cemetery with his dogs, she said.
She won’t make excuses for his actions.
“He just lost his crazy mind,” she said.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283.