December 16, 2016 was an unusually warm Friday for the winter season in Oklahoma. With Christmas just over a week away, Jill Mason and her sister Julie Mason made plans to go to Walmart the next day to gather ingredients they would need to bake cookies with Julie’s eight-year-old son, Keagen, which was a tradition they’d had for years. Jill and Julie’s mother, Ruthi Mason, was scheduled to move to Oklahoma City from Texas the following week, just before the holiday.
The entire day was “completely normal,” Jill would later say.
Nothing could have prepared them for the horrifying events that would unfold in the early hours the following morning, when police responded to a raging fire at Julie’s northwest Oklahoma City home just before 5:00 a.m. Julie was pronounced dead at the scene; her son was transported to a nearby hospital, but tragically succumbed to his injuries. It was soon revealed, however, that the two were physically assaulted prior to the fire starting – transforming what was originally thought to be a heartbreaking accident into a gruesome double murder.
Who would want to savagely take the lives of this Oklahoma mother and her young son who both, according to Jill, “didn’t have a single enemy”?
“They are amazing people,” Jill Mason describes of her sister and nephew. “Everyone they met loved them.”
Julie Mason was a Lead Conversion Specialist at a local image conversion company while Keagen was a Cub Scout who was preparing to start soccer at the YMCA. They were living in Ruthi’s childhood home, and they planned to renovate it so the three could live there together. However, the house was too damaged by the fire and was subsequently torn down, destroying not only their lives, but also the dreams the family had together.
“Keagen and I talked about running or riding our bicycles to the park with his dog Bella,” Ruthi says of the plans they’d been making. “Julie was talking about going camping in the winter and that we needed to get some winter camping gear. Keagen always had a great time camping no matter what time of year they went.”
Jill had the opportunity to eat lunch with Keagen at his school in November – just weeks before the fire – where the last photos she has with her nephew were taken.
“He was a very spunky second grader,” Jill remembers. “He had such a big personality…I miss him so much.”
Jill and Julie Mason were only thirteen months apart in age, something that factored into their closeness growing up. More like twins, Jill called Julie her “partner in crime” who was in the drumline with her in high school, attending the many practices and school trips together. Their deep-rooted bond stretched into adulthood, where they sat around campfires, spent days at the lake, and took vacations as a group once they started their own families.
Julie and Keagen had a very close connection as mother and son as well. In photos of the two, one can see the matching sparkle in their eyes and the warmth in their smiles. Keagen shows off his goofy personality through his many funny faces, while Julie grins widely, practically in mid-laugh.
“Their worlds revolved around each other,” Jill says. “The love they had for each other was hands-down a treasure.”
Danielle Trujillo, a conversion specialist who worked alongside Julie for almost three years, remembers her friend fondly. “We started on the same day together, so she pretty instantly became my best friend there,” Danielle recalls. “The first thing I noticed about her was her humor. She was hilarious and we couldn’t last more than five minutes without cracking each other up.”
Danielle goes on to tell of Julie’s irreplaceable work ethic, as well as what a devoted mother she was. “She was such a loving mom,” Danielle describes. “She talked about Keagen constantly. I adored listening to her talk about him because no matter what the story was, she lit up. He was the light in her life. Every single second she worked was for him and their life.”
Work hasn’t been the same since Julie’s murder, and her coworkers still ask questions daily.
“We’re just going through the motions now and moving forward the best we can,” says Danielle.
More than two months have passed without any answers to the endless questions regarding the case. Julie’s forty-second birthday came and went on February 25; the first for her family to celebrate without her. To say Julie and Keagen are missed is an understatement; they were not only each other’s worlds, but they were so many others’ as well. They were a sister, a daughter, a classmate, a coworker, a nephew, a cousin, a friend – and they were cruelly and maliciously taken away on a mid-December night when they should have been sleeping safely in their home with Christmas on their minds.
The Mason family holds on to the memories they have of their loved ones, along with the faith that they are home in heaven.
Jill and Julie’s grandmother, Louise, explains, “I could cry a million tears here, but it isn’t going to do anyone any good. Keagen and Julie are in a better place and they are happier than they have ever been and wouldn’t trade places with us for anything.”
“Every day is a new day of pain and sorrow,” Jill states. “I try to think of them being happy, healthy, free from anxiety, fear, pressures – but I just can’t stop missing them and wishing they were with me. I look back at pictures and wonder how could someone do this to them? How could they take these precious people from me? I will never understand that.”
With the police remaining tight-lipped about the investigation, it is not known at this time if they have identified a suspect or suspects in this senseless crime, or whether a possible motive has been established. However, the family has put forth a $20,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator.
Jill posts frequently on her Facebook page about how much she misses her sister and nephew, and implores for anyone with any information to come forward.
“I pray everyday that the person(s) that did this to them will be caught and convicted. I don’t think it will give my family any kind of closure, but I’m sure to find comfort knowing that a horrible person is off the streets and isn’t going to be able to hurt another innocent person.”
If you or someone you know have any information regarding the murders of Julie Mason and Keagen Bruce, please call the tip line at 405-297-1200. Please help bring justice for them and their families. No piece of information is too small.