POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Emotions are up and down for two children, ages 4 and 6, who were removed from the home where their father was murdered on Christmas Eve.
“They both talk. I’m not gonna say what they talk about. It’s good. It’s good. And they’ve been happy,” said their great-grandmother Priscilla Ranney, who is now taking care of them in Haines City.
Their father, 27-year-old Christopher Pine, and his friend Racheal Ramsey were murdered in Ramsey’s Lakeland home by Leighton Josephs, the father of her two children. Josephs then died by suicide, police say.
Police say the relationship between Ramsey and Josephs had become strained in recent months.
8 On Your Side discovered Lakeland police were called to Ramsey’s home nine times since January 2018, the last time being Christmas Eve when the three bodies were discovered.
All four children were in the home but were physically unharmed.
Just before the clock struck on Christmas Day, Priscilla Ranney received a frantic call to hurry to the Lakeland Police Department.
“All the way there, I didn’t know what to think. What happened? I had no inkling,” she said.
The children needed her. That’s all she was told until a detective came out to tell her the news.
“‘There was an incident that involved Chris’,” Ranney remembers the detective telling her. “‘He didn’t make it and he was dead.’ That’s just what they said to us.”
Ranney signed the paperwork and took her grandchildren home.
“They were happy to see us. I don’t know what went on. They seemed exhausted,” she said. “We’re going to go to counseling, we all need it. Because we have a long road ahead of us. We have a long road ahead of us.”
Pine was a loving man who enjoyed taking care of his children and working on cars, Ranney said.
“They will remember their father, we will make sure of that,” she said.
The community’s support has been unwavering, Ranney said. People have donated toys, clothes and Santa even paid the kids a visit on Christmas.
“We have a lot of people on our side. All they care about is the children to make them happy and get them through this sad time,” she said.
A GoFundMe has been set up by the child’s mother, Tiffini Ranney, to help take care of the children moving forward.