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Indiana police call deaths of five people a "senseless massacre"

3:53 AM, Sep 27, 2011   |    comments
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Laurel, Indiana (AP)--   As authorities tried to piece together the events that left five people dead, family members and neighbors spun an array of scenarios but reached no consensus about who was behind the violence that shocked a rural Indiana neighborhood where residents often don't even lock their doors.

More than 24 hours after the bodies were found, police were still giving no assurances Monday about whether the danger had passed or if they believed a killer (or killers) remained at large in this stretch about 50 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin declined to call the investigation a "manhunt" because authorities were unclear who - if anyone - they're seeking. He cautioned that residents be wary, although he did not rule out that one or more suspects may have been among the dead discovered Sunday.

While authorities gave no official identification of the victims, waiting until after the results of a final autopsy set for Tuesday, family members told The Associated Press they received confirmation from police about the deceased. They were identified as Angie Napier, Roy Napier, their two adult children Melissa Napier and Jacob Napier, and their friend Henry Smith, whose body was found at a separate property nearby.

Family and neighbors talked about their own theories, ranging from angry family members turning on one another to an acquaintance allegedly killing them all in a dispute. Some speculated that drug activity, which they said had been prevalent in the area, may have been to blame.

Teresa Richardson, who is Angie Napier's sister, said the family had been involved with drugs. Franklin County Sheriff Ken Murphy said his deputies had been to the address previously but did not say whether drugs were involved.

Richardson, who called the deaths a "senseless massacre," 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. Angie Napier was visiting Roy Napier and the children Sunday at the mobile home, Richardson said.

Police first responded to the scene Sunday afternoon after a passerby found a 4-year-old girl walking a road near the Napier home. Police found the Napiers dead shortly after that, then found Smith's body at another residence.

"People who haven't locked their doors in years, they're definitely locking up tight now," said Ryan Renfro, who lives nearby. "I áctually 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."

Jewel Compston said her son, Henry Smith, 43, left the house they share Sunday morning to go to the home where the four bodies were found.

"He never made it back," she said, tearing up. Compston said police told her early Monday that Smith had been shot to death.

Smith's aunt, Evelyn Renfro, lives nearby and 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," Renfro said.

Debra Richardson, who can see the home from the greenhouse at her Pretty Petals florist shop next to her house, said she has complained frequently to police about what she believed to be drug dealers in the irea, including at the mobile home.

"I have a greenhouse business, and they had more traffic than I do," she said. "I'm in here working in the greenhouse and I see people pulling in all the time. You don't have that many people visit you."

Kerry Wren, a neighbor of the Napiers, said drug use has been a problem in the area for years but that the drugs of choice have changed, with painkillers becoming more popular than meth about a year ago. He said a family member was fatally shot in 2006 by someone who was high on meth.

"This whole county is burning up with the pills," he said.

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Associated Press writer Tom Coyne in South Bend contributed to this report.

 

 

 

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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