Murder suspect's ex-wife: 'It was so surreal, so out of character'

Ex-wife of James Tylka speaks

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Sabrina Starks couldn't believe what she was hearing when she received a phone call on Christmas night from her ex-husband's mother, saying he had shot and killed his wife and taken off.

James Tylka is accused of killing his wife Katelynn Tylka-Armand, leading police on a chase, then injuring Oregon State Trooper Nic Cederberg in a shootout. Tylka died in a shootout with police.

Related: Trooper injured in Christmas shootout sits up for 1st time 

Starks said what Tylka is accused of doing, is something she never saw coming from the father of her child.

Starks said she wanted to sit down with KGW because she wants others to know that if they have a loved one who needs help, reach out and get them the help they need. That way maybe another tragedy can be prevented.  

It's still hard for Starks to think back to a horrific Christmas night. 

"I was terrified. I didn't know what was going to happen at that point," said Starks.

She said she had no idea what Tylka's state of mind was, or if her ex-husband was coming for her after allegedly shooting his wife Kate.

"It was so surreal, so out of character. I broke down and started crying," Starks said.

Starks said she and Tylka were together from 2008 to 2011, married and so in love. But things started to change.

"He had his moments," she said. Moments that included frustrated outbursts and yelling from time to time. "But he was still a good guy. He loved his kids." 

When they separated, Starks said they weren't unified like they once had been.

She filed for sole custody of their son. During that time, in court documents, Starks wrote "He is irrational, impulsive, aggressive, and constantly threatening me."

"That's just because he kept spiraling and spiraling and wasn't getting help. I feel like he didn't know what to do," said  Starks.

Starks' girlfriend, Kirsten Beck, described Tylka as a 'man's man' who wanted to be in control and may not have been comfortable admitting that he needed help for possible depression.

"It's not in his character to reach out for help because that means weakness," said Beck, who sat beside Starks in support.

Starks said in the beginning Tylka was crazy about his new wife Katelynn.

"She's so precious. All she wanted to do was be a mom," Starks said.

But somewhere along the way, it went downhill. For Starks' 7-year-old son, it's been hard.

"He called her Mommy Kate and she treated him like her own and he loved her for it," said Starks.

Her little boy lost both his father and stepmom on Christmas.

"To look in his big blue eyes and he says Kirsten, you told me nothing bad ever happens on Christmas. What do you say?" Beck said.

For now, Starks says the healing will continue, as her son tries to hold on to the good memories he had with his dad.

A GoFundMe account for Tylka's 7-year-old son has been set up here. His family said he'll need a lot of counseling after this. The family will need counseling as well.

There are also GoFundMe accounts for the recovering OSP Trooper as well as the 11-month-old girl Tylka had with Kate.

Trooper Cederberg is healing and has been moved out of the ICU.


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