Habitat for Humanity remembers family involved in murder-suicide

Habitat for Humanity remembers family involved in murder-suicide
Tornai-Jackson family

The home where a murder-suicide took place Tuesday night was built with the help of Habitat for Humanity.

A Dane County Habitat for Humanity official spoke with News 3 Wednesday.

Cheryl McCollum, a communications and advocacy manager for Habitat for Humanity Dane County, remembers the Tornai-Jackson family when they were building the home in 2009. She said she is saddened by the news.

“The families are just really excited to be part of the program,” McCollum said of the families involved in Habitat for Humanity.

The Tornai-Jacksons were no exception. After years of renting, the family of eight was ready to put down some real roots.

“Their landlords just said wonderful things about them,” McCollum said. “I think one of the quotes from the landlord was like, ‘They’re going to be great homeowners.'”

The blessing of being chosen as a Habitat family was not lost on them.

“Our families are asked to do 375 hours of sweat equity if they are a couple, so they spent every Saturday at the work site,” McCollum said. “After about eight months of hard work, the Tornai-Jacksons, with the help of Habitat volunteers, built a home on Madison’s far southeast side.”

“I just remember they were so excited to move in,” McCollum said.

McCollum said one of her most vivid memories is of little Tunieja, a sixth-grader at Blackhawk Middle School.

“She wore a beautiful pink dress,” McCollum said. “She was so excited, and I think it was all sinking in like it was all coming to reality, ‘We are really going to move into this home.'”

That excitement and life was cut short Tuesday. Tunieja was shot and killed by her father in a murder-suicide, police said.

In the same home that was built by them with all that love seven years ago.

“This is really sad for us,” McCollum said. “Our prayers, our volunteers’ prayers are all with them during this difficult time.”