- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BEASON, Ill. (AP) | A couple and three of their children were found brutally slain inside their home in this tiny central Illinois farming community, and investigators were trying to identify those responsible, authorities said Tuesday.

Authorities discovered the bodies Monday afternoon after responding to a 911 call about possible shots fired at the address, Logan County Sheriff Steven Nichols said at a news conference.

A 3-year-old girl survived the attack and was taken to a hospital in Peoria, he said.

Sheriff Nichols declined to say why his office didn’t release information about the slayings until Tuesday morning. He said detectives were trying to identify possible suspects, and that those responsible for the killings should be considered “armed and dangerous.”

Sheriff Nichols warned area residents to lock their doors at night as a precaution.

The slayings, which Sheriff Nichols described as a “brutal homicide against an entire family,” occurred at the family’s ranch-style home in Beason, a farming community of a few hundred residents about 140 miles southwest of Chicago.

Sheriff Nichols declined to provide details about the crime scene or the suspected cause of death.

The sheriff identified the victims and gave their approximate ages: Raymond “Rick” Gee, 46; Ruth Gee, 39; Justina Constant, 16; Dillen Constant, 14; and Austin Gee, 11.

He did not immediately provide details about the girl who survived.

Townspeople described the family as quiet and well-liked. Mr. Gee worked in construction, and his wife was a stay-at-home mother. They attended church with their children, who waited each morning at the town’s post office for the school bus.

Throughout Beason on Tuesday, residents gathered on porches to talk about the killings.

Dale Day, who lives a few blocks from the home where the bodies were found, said he would arm himself Tuesday night to be ready for any trouble that might come his way.

“Now I have my 9 mm loaded, cocked and ready to fire if someone breaks into my house,” Mr. Day said.

Some residents said they had never considered locking their doors at night.

“Not many people lock their doors here,” said Brittney Fillmore, 14, who knew both Justina and Dillen from high school. “Something like this isn’t what you’d expect, especially happening in a small town where everybody knows each other.”

Two of the children killed, Justina and Austin, attended an area Bible club this summer, said Jordan Peck, who led the club. Both children were attentive and polite, and Justina had become a born-again Christian recently.

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