Former FBI agent analyzes psyche of ‘family annihilator’ in Phoenix family massacre

A new report shows a father stabbed his family in north Phoenix before killing himself and an ex-FBI agent explains why he believes the dad did it.
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 7:59 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Horrific new details were released in the Phoenix family massacre that made national headlines last year. Marla Hudgens and her three young children were killed in a murder-suicide by her husband, Jasen Hudgens, who fatally shot himself in the head.

Now, the medical examiner and toxicology reports reveal what truly happened behind closed doors. A former FBI special agent said the way he killed his family paints a picture of what was happening inside his mind at the time of the killings.

Jasen is what law enforcement calls a “family annihilator.” While he used a gun on himself, he used something different on all three of them — a knife and his own hands.

In an unfathomable tragedy like this, one of the top questions for detectives and loved ones alike: was this premeditated, or did he snap? “This was somewhat methodical. He had planned this out at least for a period of time, said FBI former supervisory special agent Lance Leising.

Leising said that because of what we’ve learned in the medical and death reports for 40-year-old Marla, her 3-year-old son Christopher, and her 6-month-old twins Gwen and Faye. The medical examiner’s reports for all three list cause of death as ‘multiple sharp force injuries’ and the manner of death as a homicide.

All four of them were stabbed by Jasen with their throats slit. “Stabbing somebody is very intimate. That’s an intimate form of hurting someone. You can’t stand 20 feet away like you can with a gun,” said Leising. “That act of using that knife just displays that level of anger and intimacy that was within that anger. He really wanted to be involved in these killings.”

The reports also say there were multiple blunt force injuries to both Marla and Christopher, which Leising said displays even more passion and rage. “It could be stressors in life that were affecting him. Felt like there was no other way out,” said Leising. Marla’s friends shared with us last year their marriage was not happy, and Marla wanted to get a divorce.

But as for a motive to kill his children, Leising said two mindsets may intersect. The first motive: “Irrationally, in their own mind, they think they’re doing their kids a favor by ending their lives because they don’t see a future for them.” Leising said.

But the second motive is a direct action toward Marla, who struggled with infertility for years, to have her own children and create her family. “If he was so angry at his wife that he wanted to take away everything that she loved, everything that was good to her, she probably loved those children above all. So, taking those children away was just another act to get back at the wife,” said Leising,

The toxicology reports showed Jasen had amphetamine in his system at the time, which Leising said could add to paranoia or help numb the pain of what he was doing. Marla had an opioid in her system, but we don’t know why she had that in her system or if it was prescribed.