Fort Worth father who killed kids, sister-in-law had recently taken job with CPS

A Fort Worth father who killed his two young children and sister-in-law was in training to become an investigator with Child Protective Services, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

Ronald Parra had previously worked a variety of jobs in social services, including as a law enforcement liaison for MHMR of Tarrant County and as a mental health technician at the Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital in Dallas.

He’d been hired by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services on March 18, according to Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman with the agency. The job was for a position with Child Protective Investigations, she said.

“He was still a trainee, so he was not officially an investigator yet and had never been assigned a case,” Gonzales said.

Police say Parra, 32, fatally shot his sister-in-law, 45-year-old Melinda Mercado, and his two children — 4-year-old Alyssa Parra and Michael Parra, who would have turned 2 next month — on Monday inside the Parra home in the 2000 block of Speckle Drive.

All three had been shot multiple times, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.

Parra then turned the gun on himself, authorities say.

The children’s mother discovered the bodies upon returning home Monday and called police.

Police have not released any possible motives for what may have prompted the shootings but homicide Sgt. Joe Loughman confirmed Wednesday that investigators believe the shootings were a murder-suicide committed by Ronald Parra.

Parra and his wife had been married since August 2013 and Tarrant County records show no divorce filings. Parra also had no criminal record, according to database searches.

According to records of his job history obtained by the Star-Telegram, Parra had worked a little more than a year, beginning in October 2008, at Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital. There, the University of North Texas graduate provided behavior modification counseling in individual and group sessions and instructed patients in social skills, basic physical care and how to function independently.

In 2010, he began a five-year employment with MHMR of Tarrant County, initially as a warrant specialist, then a program specialist, and then ultimately promoted to law enforcement liaison for the agency in May 2015.

In February 2017, Parra left to begin work with Tarrant County Public Health as an epidemiology specialist. His job involved identifying and working with clients diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases and ensuring correct medical and disease information was disseminated to the community.

He left Public Health on March 13, according to county officials, and began working with CPS five days later.

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