Outpouring of love comforts Tipton family
Woodford County native Dean Tipton said he has been to his family’s Douglas Avenue home only once since Ronald Exantus allegedly murdered his six-year-old son, Logan, in the boy’s bedroom on Dec. 7. “I don’t want to ever go back there again,” said Tipton. “I avoid driving by it and everything.” Dean and Heather Tipton told The Sun during an exclusive interview that they are currently staying with family, but plan to build a new home for their family in Woodford County. Donations to a Go Fund Me page and the Logan Tipton Memorial Fund at Kentucky Bank will “help us provide a permanent place for our kids that is their own that no one will be able to steal from them like this man. (He) basically stole their whole life from underneath them – their home included,” Heather Tipton said. “We’re not going to leave the community by no means,” added Dean Tipton. “Without the support the community’s given us I don’t think we would’ve been able to be where we’re at right now,” he said. Logan’s older sisters, 11-year-old Koral, nine-year-old Lilliya and seven-year-old Dakota, are back in school at Simmons Elementary. And they remain involved with clubs and other activities at school, which their mom said puts normalcy in their lives. She described Simmons Elementary as “a big part of their support system – all the way from their teachers to their guidance counselors to the principal to their classmates.” Dean and Heather Tipton said they recently spent three hours in Lexington, where they arranged individual and family counseling and discussed what their children have gone through and how Logan’s death has changed them. “They witnessed something that night that nobody needs to see,” said Dean Tipton. “They’re having difficulty with it…” “It’s very difficult on everybody right now,” added Heather Tipton. According to Versailles Police, one of Logan’s sisters heard her brother scream and confronted Exantus a little before 4 a.m. on Dec. 7. Logan’s cries awoke his father, who scuffled with Exantus in a hallway and managed to get a kitchen knife away from him before police arrived. Logan was found in his bed, stabbed to death. Asked how he sleeps at night after what happened in his family’s home a little more than a month ago, Dean Tipton said, “I don’t sleep at night. I’m scared of the dark. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. (I’m) in constant fear, more aware of my surroundings. “…I’ve learned through this that you cannot keep your family 100 percent safe at all times. It’s impossible.” Tipton said he was not in the courtroom when Exantus was arraigned on charges of murder, first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree assault and fourth-degree assault in Woodford Circuit Court on Jan. 6. “Right now, I just can’t be in the same room as that man,” he said. Heather Tipton was present for Exantus’s arraignment. “It was very, very difficult to be in the same room with him. I can’t even explain to you the feelings I had. It’s just something indescribable,” she said. “But I’m not going to sit there and lash out, and scream and holler or anything like that. I just want the justice system to do its job … and I have all the faith in them that they are doing that, and they will do that.” Knowing it may take months – and maybe a year or more – before this case goes to trial leaves these parents concerned for their children, but they know it’s necessary. “I don’t want this man to ever walk the streets again, and hurt somebody else,” said Dean Tipton. He has spoken with the parents of other children who “are just terrified. Even though this man’s still in jail – he’s still terrorizing these kids. And that really hurts a lot because I can’t imagine being that young and scared that someone’s going to come into their home and do what happened to Logan to them. They’re terrified of that right now.” Last fall was Logan’s first year as a player and his father’s first year as his coach in the Woodford Youth Football League. “Once he got the pads on him,” remembered Dean Tipton, “you couldn’t get them off him. If we would’ve let him, he would’ve slept in them.” Tipton wanted his son to play youth football because of what he learned about life while playing sports in this community. He described his coaches, including his middle school football coach, Joe Carr Sr., as a second family. “Along with my dad,” he said, “…my coaches also taught me about having responsibility and respect.” That’s why Tipton said he plans on coaching again next season. One of his players will be his four-year-old son, Aiden, who wants to play while wearing his older brother’s number 63. Tipton described Pete Barnhardt, president of the Woodford Youth Football League, as “a Godsend to us.” And he was not the only person in the community who wrapped their arms around his family in the aftermath of his son’s murder. “I know we lost our son that night,” said Tipton, “but it was our whole entire community that lost him as well.” He said the tragedy opened his eyes to the “good, decent people out there, still.” “It’s heartwarming – it really is – to see the stuff people have done and want to do for my son, our son,” he said. Heather Tipton, who moved here from Nebraska when she was 15 years old, said she and her husband raised all five of their kids to be passionate, empathetic and caring children. And everything about Logan was love and joy. “He loved everyone. He loved everyone,” said Dean Tipton.