Investigation into Weirton murder-suicide continues as community mourns loss, celebrates victims (2024)

Investigation into Weirton murder-suicide continues as community mourns loss, celebrates victims (1)

REMEMBRANCE — Individuals were able to light paper lanterns with special messages during a celebration of life Monday night for Zoe Antoniou, one of three individuals killed Saturday in Weirton. -- Christopher Dacanay

WEIRTON — Police continue to investigate the apparent murder-suicide in Weirton Saturday that left one injured and three dead, while community members mourn the tragic loss of life.

Weirton Police Chief Charlie Kush said Monday that the department is still speaking with witnesses to determine a motive for the shooting, which occurred after midnight at 249 Miami Ave.

Kush said police received a call from within the home reporting a shooting and arrived at the scene at 12:20 a.m. Found deceased from gunshot wounds inside the home were Jordan Bettino, 25; Zoe Antoniou, 26, and the suspect, Brennan Bailey, 33, whose wounds appeared to be self-inflicted, Kush said.

Another victim, Desiree McDiffitt, 30, was flown by medical helicopter to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh and underwent emergency surgery, according to posts on social media from her mother, Kathy Starr McDiffitt. She is currently in stable condition and expected to recover soon, her mother said.

Kush said the shooting occurred on the first floor of the three-level residence, where Bettino, Antoniou, Bailey and McDiffitt were gathered along with Bettino’s sister, Victoria Bettino, who was in a relationship with Bailey.

Jordan and Victoria Bettino would occasionally stay at the Miami Avenue residence, which belongs to their mother, Gina Bettino, Kush said, adding separately that police have previously received calls to the residence.

There were four children inside the residence at the time, Kush said, two belonging to Jordan Bettino and the other two to Victoria Bettino. Two children were in the basem*nt at the time of the shooting, while two were on the second floor with Gina Bettino in her room. None of the children was injured during the shooting.

Kush said more information will become available as the investigation progresses. Assisting the Weirton Police Department in the investigation are the West Virginia State Police, Hanco*ck County Sheriff’s Department, Weirton Fire Department and Hanco*ck County Ambulance Service.

The shootings came just a few days after another incident in the city: Last Tuesday, police responded to reports of a domestic disturbance at 109 Deya St., where they encountered the homeowner, Mark Dennis, 71, and the body of his wife, Linda Dennis, 72. Dennis is facing first-degree murder charges and is being held at the West Virginia Northern Regional Jail.

Since Saturday’s shootings, individuals have grieved over the incident that touched many lives in the tightly knit community.

A GoFundMe campaign was started to benefit Gina Bettino, who will be the sole guardian over Jordan Bettino’s two children, Armani Edward, 6, and Aniya Brooklynn Bettino, 5. The campaign calls Gina Bettino a “pillar of strength and compassion” amid the current loss and the untimely deaths of her two sons, Jeffrey Jay Ballato Jr. and Justin Edward Ballato.

A similar campaign on Spotfund was created to benefit Jennifer Stevens, the mother of Zoe Antoniou. Monday night saw a celebration of Antoniou’s life at Starvaggi Memorial Park and Pool, where hundreds of individuals came to remember Antoniou and support her family.

Friends and supporters could write personal messages on paper lanterns that were later released into the sky, along with a fleet of balloons.

People cried and embraced throughout the event, which began with a prayer being offered for Antoniou and her family. The event was organized by Linda Shuppas, who said she knew Antoniou and Stevens tangentially but wanted to reach out and help, inspired by her own experience of loss.

Stevens offered her own thoughts, thanking those present for the overwhelming show of support amid “indescribable pain.” A solace to her has been reading positive notes and memories of Antoniou posted on social media, she said.

“I know Zoe was just love and light and joy,” Stevens said. “She loved and she loved big, and if you had kids, she loved them ever bigger. She put everybody’s needs before her own. … She always wanted to do good.”

Stevens shared stories about Antoniou and invited others to do the same. Friends of Antoniou recalled her personality, as well as the origin of a photo with Antoniou and her friends on it that they turned into a T-Shirt, captioned with “Until we meet again sis.”

Her father, Jimmy Antoniou, said his daughter was “a bright light to a lot of us. … She was strong, and she wasn’t afraid to fight.”

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Investigation into Weirton murder-suicide continues as community mourns loss, celebrates victims (2024)
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