Deputies: Man killed wife of 17 years, self

Court documents reveal letters from wife about husband's violent behavior

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Police say Frank Hands Jr. killed his wife, Byrenda, in their Yulee home.

YULEE, Fla. - The Nassau County Sheriff's Office has identified a husband and wife found dead in a murder-suicide Saturday evening.

Investigators said Frank Hands Jr. called the Sheriff's Office dispatch about 7 p.m. and said that he "just killed his wife," that he shot her and that when deputies arrived they better come armed.

When deputies arrived at the home in the 85000 block of Theresa Road in Yulee, they said they heard two shots coming from inside the home.

After attempts to communicate with Hands were unsuccessful, deputies entered the home and found Hands and his wife, Byrenda Hands, dead.

Deputies said there were two witnesses who fled from the home, but they were not involved in the killings.

Investigators said the case is being investigated as a murder-suicide that was the result of domestic issues.

The couple was married for 17 years. Court documents obtained by Channel 4 reveal disturbing letters written by Byrenda Hands months before her killing.

She was scared of her husband, who had made threats against her and other family members before, according to the documents. The couple's stormy relationship finally came to a violent end over the weekend.

Court documents show Byrenda filed a domestic violence injunction against her husband more than once. She wrote letters to the courts chronicling her husband's violent temper.

"I cried and begged him not to be so angry," she wrote in one. "I love Frank but can't have him back. I am afraid of Frank ... I just don't want his drama and anger. He needs help. I just hope he'll leave me and my son alone."

Earlier this year, records show, it was Frank, not Byrenda who tried to end the marriage. Court records show Frank filed for divorce in April. Last week, Hands filed a notice voluntarily dismissing the petition for divorce. The notice was filed Wednesday, three days before the fatal shootings.

"We had known there was trouble over there," said neighbor Adam Johns, who heard a gunshot.

Johns' mother lives across the street. According to their family, Byrenda had recently gone over to their house for help.

"Two weeks prior to this she came up here and talked to my mom," Johns said. "She was hysterical. She said her husband was trying to hurt her or something."

"She came about two weeks ago to my door, crying," Johns' mother, Cathy Johns, said. "She was speaking to a lady on the telephone. She said she was having trouble with her husband."

The couple didn't have any children together.

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