Still No Answers in Murder-Suicide Investigation


A Panama City Beach community continues to mourn the loss of a 10-year-old boy. The question still remains why the boy's father would shoot him before turning the gun on himself.

Joshua Stephens posted multiple videos online through an application called vine. NewsChannel 7 has learned the boy was a fan of the video game Halo and loved his cats.

Late Tuesday night, Joshua's life was cut short. The Bay County Sheriff's Office says his father, Phillip Stephens, shot his son and then himself in what they're calling a murder-suicide.

Joshua was a third grade student at Patronis Elementary School. On wednesday morning, a memo was sent out to all teachers and administrators at the school. In part, it says "our hearts are very heavy and saddened this morning at patronis elementary. Such a travesty and mystery, we may never know."

"I've had a lot of phone calls. Lot of phone calls just wanting to express their concern and grief and sadness and if there's anything they can do, let them know," said Brooke Loyed, Assistant Principal at Patronis Elementary.

His father, Phillip Stephens, was a bus driver for eight years with the school district. He drove bus routes for Patronis Elementary, Surfside Middle, and Arnold High School.

"We're devastated. We've lost an outstanding employee and a precious little child. Phillip Stephens was probably one of the most dedicated and committed bus drivers we've had in a very, very long time," said Dr. John Haley with Bay District Schools.

Those at Patronis Elementary say they're coming together in this tough time.

"We're a tight family and we're a large school but if it impacts one of us, it impacts all of us. It's a sense of sadness," said Loyed.

School officials at Patronis tell us they will be providing grief counseling next week for family members and those who knew Joshua.


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