Mother, two children killed by ex-boyfriend in northern Michigan murder-suicide

"She said 'Mom I love you very much, I've got to go," said Nancy McMaster.

That was Friday night and the last time McMaster would talk to her daughter, Cecelia Woods, who had recently moved her family from the Detroit area to Oscoda County in northern Michigan for a better life.

But later that night, police say James Jackson of Detroit attacked Cecelia using a dog leash to strangle her and then, her two boys.

Jackson, 39, then killed 3-year-old James and Jackson's own son, 2-year-old Keyon.

Then using that same dog leash, Jackson took his own life. Neighbors discovered the gruesome scene after they spotted him hanging from a TV antenna outside the mobile home.

"I don't understand how you could choke the life out of a child, your own child," McMaster said. "I probably never will understand that. It's in God's hands now."

This isn't the first time Jackson attacked Woods. Records show in 2013 at a home in Wilshire Street in Detroit. He woke her up, tried to strangle her by hanging her in a closet. 

She managed to escape and Jackson was charged for that crime, but served less than a year and was released from prison just a few months ago.

"She believed in second chances and everyone could change," McMaster said. "She grew up without a father wanted her kids to have one."

She says Jackson, who FOX 2 learned was a parole absconder, convinced Cecelia to let him move into her place. They were not together. In fact, Cecelia was dating someone else and still married to the father of her other three children.

McMaster believes after Woods hung up the phone that night, she told Jackson she was moving to Florida with her mother next month, and he snapped.

"She knew that her kids kids were out there and fought," McMaster said. "She fought hard (because of) how gruesome the scene was."

"They were just happy kids," said Cecelia's brother, Steven Woods. "Normal happy kids ran around played with toys didn't have a care in the world.

"For someone to do that and for us to go through that, there are no words I can find that has any explanation."

And there wasn't one. Cecelia's brother says Jackson left a suicide note behind. Written on it: "I'm sorry" and some contact numbers.

"His family also had a loss," McMaster said. "They lost a grandchild and a son. Even though I have no respect for their son or what he did, I do have respect for their loss."

A family forced to deal with unbelievable circumstances, unthinkable grief and a costly funeral they never planned for.

They set up a GoFundMe account, hoping to raise the money to bury this mother and her two babies.

If you would like to help CLICK HERE.

"Our family could not we could not get through this with everyone who is involved," Steven said. "We just want to say thank you."
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