Texas Mom Who Killed Her Two Daughters Was 'Erratic,' Former Employer Says
Christy Sheats worked for five months for John Hollis, who now feels 'lucky' she didn't turn on him
The employer who for five months last year shared a small office with Christy Sheats, the Texas mom who fatally shot her two daughters before being shot and killed by police, says she was an erratic employee who frequently missed work and wasn’t always truthful with him.
Still, he says, he never would have expected the horrific final actions she took.
“Whether it was her or anybody else, it wouldn’t be much more of a shock that a mother would murder her children,” John Hollis, who hired Sheats as a part-time receptionist for his business, tells PEOPLE. “But the fact that I was connected to her in a sense professionally, looking back on it, I’m more disturbed today than the day I found out.”
“Everybody is making an assumption that I ‘knew’ her,” he says. “And in reality nobody ‘knew’ her, her family didn’t know her, nobody knew her, because what she was and the reality of what she presented herself to be were two different things.”
Sheats, 42, was shot by police June 24 when she refused to drop her gun after firing and killing her daughters Taylor, 22, and Madison, 17, after convening a family meeting in the midst of tension in their Katy, Texas, home on her husband Jason’s 45th birthday.
Hollis owns Clean Canvas Laser Tattoo Removal in Houston, where Sheats was hired for a receptionist position in January 2015. Hollis is the sole other employee of the appointment-only business, where he says Sheats worked no more than 25 hours per week.
He trusted her resume because she claimed “prior salon experience” working in her home state of Alabama. He did not verify that earlier employment before hiring her. “I was going based on her appearance and presentation,” he says. “She had that sweet, Southern Alabama look and sound about her.”
He says Sheats initially appeared to be a good fit. “She was very pleasant when she wanted to be. That was in front of customers,” Hollis says. “The times when she wasn’t pleasant were times when I assume that whatever was going on at home was getting to her.”
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“I know that when she first came to work here, she said she was going through a divorce,” he says. “At some point between January and May, I asked her, ‘How’s your divorce going?'”
Sheats replied that she and her husband weren’t divorcing, but that she was living alone in an apartment a few blocks from the family home, he says.
“She told me one thing when she started employment, and then later the story changed. As a business owner, when stories change and things don’t add up, that s a problem,” Hollis says. “If you’re not truthful with your employer, that’s a red flag.”
“That was when I started laying the groundwork for her termination,” he says. “It wasn’t because she lied about divorce versus separation. That’s just the way the series of events took place.”
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He says Sheats had begun to show workplace “inconsistency,” which he further described as “attendance and factual things.” He says, “She answered the phone and she booked appointments, and that was the extent of her responsibility.” But there were days she “just wouldn’t show up at all,” he says.
He also learned that on her personal LinkedIn business profile, Sheats described herself as his company’s “business manager” with multiple responsibilities – and that she’d listed her start date as January 2014, a full year before she began working for Hollis.
He “repeatedly” asked her to correct it. “Those requests went ignored,” he says. At the time she died, Sheats still listed herself as working for Hollis, more than a year after he’d fired her.
“She presents things the way she wants to be presented, whether it’s truth or not,” he adds.
He says he did not notice any particular deterioration in Sheats’s demeanor during the five months they worked together. “It was erratic; it was highs-and-lows.” he says. “I wouldn’t say it was deterioration, I would say it was peaks and valleys.”
Still, he didn’t doubt her pride in her daughters, “how much she loved them, and how they were the light of her life,” he says. “She would share with me accomplishments and accolades, things that were going on. But I never met her daughters; I never met Jason.”
Although Sheats didn’t share photos of her family with her employer, Hollis saw what she posted on Facebook, where the two were briefly connected as friends. What did those images lead him to believe? “On the surface, the same thing that everybody else sees,” he says. “That they were a happy family.”
“I believe she shared with me that her husband was paying her rent on her apartment,” he says. “I don’t know what’s true and what’s not. She certainly wasn’t making enough money here to afford an apartment, so she had to be subsidized by her husband.”
Fired in May 2015: ‘It Was Always Something’
And when Hollis finally let Sheats go in May 2015, “she was understanding,” he says. “There were a lot of things that couldn’t be argued, like ‘you missed work twice last week, you didn’t call, you didn’t show up,'” he says. “It was always something.”
“We parted on as amicable terms as you could part in a termination situation,” he says.
Now, after learning that Jason Sheats told a family friend after the murders that Christy Sheats had said before opening fire that she intended to punish him, Hollis feels fortunate that he himself wasn’t targeted.
“If somebody is that deranged that they would go to those lengths to hurt somebody” who they think has mistreated them, he says, “I’m shaken to the core by the act itself, but also looking back now, thinking, wow, how lucky I am.”
“I thought I knew her,” he says. “But I really didn’t.”