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Bride’s Sister Defends Dad Who Allegedly Blew Up Home on Wedding Day, Says He ‘Wasn’t a Monster, He Was Sick’

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Just days after her father’s tragic death on the day of her sister’s wedding, a Pennsylvania woman is opening up about mental illness and the importance of awareness.

Last Saturday should have been the happiest day of Lauren Evans’ life. She was getting married, surrounded by family and friends, to the love of her life.

Shortly before the ceremony, however, it became clear that Evans’ father would not be attending the wedding. He was nowhere to be found and the bride’s uncle stepped in to walk her down the aisle.

Tragically, just a mile away from where Evans and her husband were saying their vows, her father John Evans died in their family home in Edgewood, Pennsylvania. The 59-year-old allegedly disconnected a gas line and blew up the house after leaving multiple notes behind in his car.

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“This gentleman apparently had some personal issues and we’ve had information from neighbors that would indicate that there’s a great potential here that he would have blown the house up,” Edgewood Police Chief Robert Payne told WTAE-TV. “It looks like he may have been able to disconnect the gas line itself in the basement of the house and of course it wouldn’t take much but a spark to explode the house after that.”

Neighbors reported seeing Evans outside the home carrying a gas can shortly before the explosion, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“It was a lot of smoke, a lot of flames,” one of the onlookers said. “People were crying. People were upset. We’re unsure about what happened to this man so it’s a scary situation.”

“The whole house was on fire,” another neighbor told WTAE. “The whole house was one big flame. It just exploded within a couple minutes. Above all the roofs.”

The family’s entire home was destroyed, along with all their possessions. There is a GoFundMe set up for donations to help Evans’ widow Shawna get back on her feet in wake of the devastating incident.

After the family’s story made national headlines, one of Evans’ daughters, Heather Evers, reflected on the “incorrect reporting and speculation about her dad,” according to a Facebook post from WTAE anchor Mike Clark.

While the family has received support, other comments have called Evans’ alleged actions cruel. That is not how his family remembers him, according to Evers.

“I would like to help set the record straight,” she said. “My father wasn’t a monster. He was sick.”

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Evers went on to explain that, though her relationship with her dad had been tumultuous at times, he was not only a good man but also a good father.

In spite of what the media was saying about him, she wanted everyone to know that her dad was not vicious; he was simply human. And like so many other Americans, she said he suffered from debilitating depression.

“My dad was one of our biggest fans,” she said. “He drove me to every dance practice and made it to every recital. My dad taught all three of us to drive … He taught me how to shoot spitballs at street signs when we rode in the car, but the importance of never shooting it at anyone.”

“I wanted to be just like him. I remember jumping up the stairs on my way to bed, singing about how he was the greatest daddy in the whole wide world. He helped me every step of the way.”

Evers hopes her family’s story will help bring awareness to the importance of seeking treatment for mental illness.

She said that her dad never sought help because his pride prevented him — an issue that many others have faced as a result of stigmas and negative stereotypes surrounding mental health and therapy.

She wishes her father had been able to receive the treatment he needed, and that he could still be with them.

“He was a father and a husband,” she said. “He was just sick.”

Evans’ family fervently hopes that anyone reading his story who suffers from similar thoughts will be reminded of how loved, valuable and important they are.

“Our family would like to use this as a platform to educate people on the importance of mental health awareness,” Evers said. “If someone comes to you and tells you they’re concerned about your mental health, please listen.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with Evers and her family during this difficult time.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to

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