Exclusive: Daycare Director tells what happened before the murder suicide

By Stephanie Claytor

Published 05/03 2014 11:32PM

Updated 05/03 2014 11:46PM

A Stonewall day care director is grateful she and her staff worked quickly to save a child from being kidnapped and kept the other children inside safe.

Gwen Salley was kidnapped by her estranged husband Michael as soon as she stepped foot outside the Butterfly Gardens Daycare. Director Amanda Byram witnessed the abduction.

" I saw a man run down the sidewalk and pull the blanket off a gun and point it to her head," said Byram.  "He forced her into the backseat of the vehicle with the child. The child got out and ran to me and I got her in the building and locked the door as soon as I could. "

 Byram locked the doors to the daycare, and put the place on lockdown.  No one was hurt. 

"Extremely grateful for the child. I still have guilt about not being able to help the mother. It's really bothering me not being able to help the mother," said Byram. 

Meanwhile, Desoto and Caddo Parish deputies worked an hour and a half to track down the couple. Desoto even deployed its helicopter.  The deputies located them off John's Gin Road, near Keithville. 

According to Desoto Parish Capt. Pat Jones, they slowly followed behind the couple in her SUV for about a mile, until the dirt road ended in a clearing. As they got out their cars, just fifteen feet away, they heard one shot. As they got closer, they heard two more. Jones said they had to break through the tinted windows, only to discover that Michael Salley had shot his wife Gwen twice, and then killed himself.

Both were deceased on scene. 

Byram describes Gwen as a loving mother, who never missed an opportunity to hug and kiss her daughter goodbye. She said Michael was quiet, but she thought the couple appeared to be normal. That's until the day before Gwen's murder, when Byram was notified Gwen had a restraining order against her husband. 

Gwen and Michael were separated and she had recently filed for divorce. Her family said Michael was an alcoholic, who had violent episodes dating back five years. 

Three days before the fatal shooting, Desoto deputies were called to the couple's home on Poag Road in Grand Cane. According to Desoto Chief Deputy Horace Womack, Michael Salley broke into the home, and when Gwen arrived, he held her at gunpoint for two hours, before she was able to text family for help. He was arrested that night, but was able to bond out the following day. 

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