A neighbor of the victims has been taken into custody by police who are looking into the killings of four people in a small northeastern Nebraska city, the Nebraska State Patrol reported on Friday.
After gathering information at two torched residences where the four victims were discovered Thursday morning, a police team surrounded and eventually entered a house in Laurel at around 2:30 a.m. on Friday.
Jason A. Jones, 42, of Laurel was detained by the Nebraska State Patrol on homicide suspect. At a press conference, Nebraska State Patrol Col. John Bolduc noted that because of his severe burns and the fact that he was airlifted to a hospital in Lincoln, he has not yet been officially charged.
Jones, according to Bolduc, resides across the street from one of the destroyed residences.
Three people who lived in the same home—Gene Twiford, 86; Janet Twiford, 85; and Dana Twiford, 55—were found dead. Michele Ebeling, 53, was named as the victim at the other home. According to Bolduc, Jones resided three streets away from the Twiford house, across the street from Ebeling.
Bolduc failed to provide a possible explanation for the arrest or to confirm whether Jones knew the victims.
Bolduc claimed that as Jones was being apprehended, authorities employed flash explosions as a decoy but that Jones was taken into custody “violently free.” There are no more suspects, but according to Bolduc, it is still too early to tell whether or not there will be any other arrests.
Autopsies of the victims were planned for Friday.
The victims were found in the two burning residences in the city about 100 miles northwest of Omaha the day after the arrest.
After firefighters were alerted to an explosion and fire, one person’s body was discovered. Firefighters were called to another neighboring residence a short while later, when they discovered three bodies.
The state police reported that both fires started just after 3 a.m. on Thursday and that “gunfire had a factor in the event at both homes.”
The two incidents erupted in a neighborhood that Cedar County Sheriff Larry Koranda characterized as a retirement community with around 1,000 residents.
“Everybody knows everybody in this small community,” Koranda said.
After the victims were discovered dead, Koranda advised the public to “be diligent” and call the police if they noticed anything unusual.
“We believe the community is safe with this guy in jail,” Bolduc said on Friday.
When the bodies were found, Laurel police suggested a voluntary lockdown, which led the majority of businesses, a senior center, and schools to restrict access for a portion of the day.