Whether it was Christmastime or not, Heather Tipton said she often sang Silent Night to help calm the fears of her son Logan.
“My son was terrified of the dark,” she said, but at the sound of the song, “he’d go right to sleep.”
On Monday night, less than 24 hours after police say 6-year-old Logan Tipton was stabbed to death in his Versailles bedroom by an intruder, his mother led hundreds of mourners in singing Silent Night for him one last time.
The crowd gathered on the Woodford County High School football field, where Logan’s football number, 63, was emblazoned on the scoreboard. They gathered around the Tipton family to cry, pray, offer condolences and sing songs, including Logan’s favorite, Jesus Loves Me.
The Indiana man who confessed to the stabbing is most likely mentally ill, his attorney said after a court hearing Monday.
The boy was stabbed multiple times in the head with a large kitchen knife during a burglary about 4 a.m. Monday, according to investigators and Woodford County Coroner Ronald Owens.
His heart was so pure.
Peter Barnhardt, family friend, decribing Logan
Ronald Exantus, 32, was arrested at the Douglas Avenue house and charged with murder and first-degree burglary, police said. He confessed to killing the child, according to court records.
Friend Peter Barnhardt of Versailles said the Tipton family and the community of 9,000 are struggling after the boy’s violent death.
“We’re just trying to wrap our heads around this,” he said.
Exantus’ bond was set at $1 million during a Woodford District Court hearing just hours after the killing.
Attorney Bridget Hofler from the Department of Public Advocacy appeared on Exantus’ behalf. She told the judge she didn’t think Exantus was mentally competent and said he might have schizophrenia.
She later told reporters outside the courtroom, “I feel certain he is mentally ill. I’m not a psychologist, but I’ve dealt with a lot of people in my career.”
“This is a very emotional issue for all of us in Woodford County,” said Hofler, who also is a resident. “I mean this is a child that is dead, and it’s very tragic.”
While the family slept, Exantus entered the home and walked around before taking a large knife he found in the house and going to the upstairs bedroom where Logan was, according to the court record.
There was no forced entry into the home, Versailles police Lt. Michael Fortney said. The front door of the house had been unlocked. Everyone in the family was home, except for the mother who was at work.
One of the daughters heard Logan’s scream, Fortney said. The father also woke up, and he fought Exantus before subduing him, Fortney said.
When police arrived, they found Logan and tried to give him aid.
A couple of the boy’s siblings had cuts and scratches from the attack, Fortney said. Those injuries did not require hospital treatment. They were treated at their house or at a relative’s house.
Police seized a vehicle with Indiana plates that was parked outside the house, Fortney said. Police think the vehicle belongs to Exantus.
A family friend of the Tipton family set up a GoFundMe fundraising page for the family. Proceeds would go towards funeral expenses and potentially a new place to stay.
Hofler said Exantus’ family had not yet been contacted Monday afternoon. A Facebook page for a Ronald Exantus claimed that he is a dialysis nurse at an Indiana clinic.
It’s not clear why Exantus targeted Logan’s house or Logan.
The loss of Logan has left the family numb, Barnhardt said.
“It’s going to get tough tonight when they lay down to go to sleep,” he said.
The 6-year-old offensive lineman for the Yellowjackets was remembered Monday as an exceptionally happy kid who “never knew a stranger” and was quick to say “I love you.”
“His heart was so pure,” Barnhardt, 42, president of Woodford Youth Football League, said.
The 2015 season was Logan’s first in the league, Barnhardt said. Logan was set to receive the league’s Offensive Lineman award at a year-end banquet this weekend.
Logan was a kindergartener at Simmons Elementary, where three of his siblings also attend, district Superintendent Scott Hawkins said. A crisis team of counselors was on hand for teachers and students Monday.
Hawkins spoke to Principal Larry Caudill on Monday about “what a fine young man” Logan was.
“He was friendly, always had a smile on his face, and he was one of those kids who was just a joy to be around.”
Tiffany Crow, who owns Tiffany’s Pet Spa near the house where the attack occurred, said she and her 11-year-old son were shaken by the news. She said she didn’t know the boy’s family well but would see children playing outside.
“It’s just horrible,” Crow said. “Kiss your kids every day, every night.”
A family friend of the Tipton family, Laura Burton Lacy, set up a GoFundMe fundraising page for the family Monday morning.
Versailles, as a community, as a family, as a shelter, let’s come together.
Pastor Terry Jenkins
Lacy said in an interview with the Herald-Leader that proceeds would go towards funeral expenses and potentially a new place to stay, adding that the other Tipton children are too afraid to go back into the home.
Lacy said Logan, who is pictured in the GoFundMe page wearing his Yellowjackets jersey, was “a very sweet child.”
As of Monday night, the page has raised more than $22,000.
“Senseless evil, random acts of violence — day and night it can be found,” Pastor Terry Jenkins told those in attendance at the vigil Monday night. “None of us are immune to it.”
Jenkins urged the community to show love to each other as they struggle to find a way through the difficult times together.
“Versailles, as a community, as a family, as a shelter, let’s come together,” Jenkins said.
He assured them that Logan was in a better place, having woken this morning “from a dream to a world where dreams come true. Logan was a child of the most high God.”
Barnhardt, Logan’s football coach, said that if Logan had been able to have even a 30-second conversation with Exantus, he would have told him he loved him.
“He would have,” his parents echoed amid tears.