News From Terre Haute, Indiana

State News

September 26, 2011

Police: Some of the 5 killed in rural Indiana community were shot

LAUREL, Ind. — A rural Indiana community is on edge today as police search for answers in the deaths of five people found at two homes.

Some of the victims found Sunday in the sparsely populated area near the town of Laurel had been shot, and autopsies to confirm the cause of death are planned for today, state police said.

Police did not immediately release the identities of the victims, but family members told The Associated Press that four of the victims were members of one family and included a man, his ex-wife and their two adult children.

Evelyn Renfro, who lives nearby, said she heard shots around noon Sunday.

“Nobody went out because they were loading the cattle here and they didn’t pay no attention to that,” she said.

Renfro said her nephew, Henry Smith, 43, was killed.

“He was trying to run away and he run across the road. Then they found him lying there dead.”

Renfro and her grandson, Ryan, said there had been some drug dealing in the normally quiet neighborhood and that the family involved in the killings could sometimes be heard arguing. Her nephew was not a member of that family.

A multi-agency investigation into the killings began after the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call Sunday afternoon about a child wandering along a road near Laurel, about 50 miles southeast of Indianapolis, according to a state police statement.

A deputy spoke with the child and neighbors, then called for backup to search the two homes. Police found a dead male inside a recreational vehicle and the bodies of two males and two females at the other home across the street.

“We have five dead people and we’re trying to find out how they died,” said Sgt. Jerry Goodin, spokesman for the Indiana State Police. “Some of the victims had gunshot wounds, or what appear to be gunshot wounds.”

Police would not say if any suspects have been arrested, but warned nearby residents to be careful.

“They should be vigilant,” Goodin said. “They need to make sure they keep the doors locked. If they see any suspicious people, absolutely they should dial 911.

Goodin said today that no manhunt was being conducted. He did not say whether the shooter or shooters were believed to be among the deceased.

Ryan Renfro said neighbors are taking the warning to heart today.

“It’s definitely something to take into consideration. People who haven’t locked their doors in years, they’re definitely locking up tight now. 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.”

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