LAUREL, Ind. (AP) — Police remained tight-lipped Tuesday about their investigations into the deaths of five people in a sparsely populated rural Indiana neighborhood where residents seldom even lock their doors.
The mystery began Sunday afternoon when a driver found a 4-year-old girl walking alone on a road near Laurel, about 50 miles southeast of Indiana. Authorities were called, and after talking with the girl, officers found four dead adults inside the child’s family home. Some of them had been shot. A fifth body was found on a nearby property.
Indiana State Police have released few details as they investigate the slayings, leaving residents to speculate on whether the danger has passed.
“People who haven’t locked their doors in years, they’re definitely locking up tight now,” Ryan Renfro, who lives nearby, said Monday. “I actually took off work today because I’m here with my elderly grandparents and I didn’t want to leave them here alone until they caught who they are looking for.”
Sgt. Jerry Goodin, a spokesman for the Indiana State Police, did not say whether the shooter or shooters were believed to be among the deceased. He did say Tuesday that no manhunt was being conducted. He said investigators were hoping that autopsies performed Monday and Tuesday would yield clues on how the five were killed and who killed them.
“We don’t know yet. We’re hoping the autopsies will tell us that. Right now, we don’t have a manhunt because we don’t have any suspects. We don’t have anybody to hunt,” Sgt. Goodin said.
Police declined to release the victims’ names Monday, but people in this area, where many are related by blood or through marriage, talked about their relatives who had been killed. Those included four members of one family — a man, his estranged wife and their two adult children — as well as a neighbor who had gone to visit a member of the household.
Jewel Compston said her son, Henry Smith, 43, left the house they shared Sunday morning to go to the home where the four bodies were found.
“He never made it back,” she said, tearing up.
Ms. Compston said police told her early Monday that Mr. Smith had been shot to death.
Police wouldn’t comment on possible motives, but neighbors said they had complained about drug activity in the area, and the sister of one victim said the family had been involved with drugs.
Teresa Richardson said the home where the bodies were found belonged to her sister’s estranged husband, who lived there with their adult daughter and son. She said her sister was visiting them Sunday.
She said police called her Monday afternoon and confirmed the four dead inside the home were her sister, Angie Napier; her sister’s estranged husband, Roy Napier; their daughter, Melissa Napier; and their son, Jacob Napier.
Ms. Richardson called the deaths a “senseless massacre” and said she blamed it on drugs. She said her sister and Roy Napier would have arguments that sometimes got physical, but she didn’t think any of the family members would have turned on the others.
Associated Press writer Tom Coyne in South Bend, Ind., contributed to this report.