Houston, November 17: Six people, including a woman and a six-year-old boy, were killed at a campsite in east Texas and a man has been arrested and charged in connection with the murders, officials said today.
The bodies of the six victims were found on a private property outside Palestine, about 161 km southeast of Dallas, according to the Anderson County Sheriff's Office, which called the homicide the largest in the county's history.
"A lot of them are family, kin to each other in various forms. They are not from this area," Sheriff Greg Taylor said.
According to Carl and Cynthia Johnson's family, the bodies of Carl Johnson, 77, and his daughter Hannah Johnson were found Sunday morning. Police declined to name the Johnsons, but said two bodies were found at 7AM Sunday after the sole survivor Cynthia was able to make her way to a main road and call 911.
Carl and Cynthia Johnson were employees of the University of Maine at Farmington and retired to Texas. Hannah moved there to be closer to them.
In addition to Carl Johnson and his daughter, Hannah Johnson's 6-year-old son Kade Johnson, Hannah's boyfriend Thomas Kamp, and Kamp's two oldest children were killed, according to the Johnson family.
The bodies of Kamp and the children were found in a pond after police searched nearby property belonging to William Mitchell Hudson, 33.
Hudson has been arrested and charged with one count of murder in the deaths. He is being held on a USD 2.5 million bond. The motive of the murders was not known, police said.
Sheriff Taylor said he expected Hudson would face additional charges.
He said Hudson did not have any relationship with the victims, nor was it clear what prompted the murders. Hudson is not cooperating with police, Taylor said.
The sheriff said Hudson has a previous record of violent behaviour, but nothing on the scale of the six murders. "We handled him for assault within the last few weeks," Taylor said. "He was violent, but it wasn't of this nature."
According to the Johnson family, the six were killed Saturday night. At least one neighbour heard gunshots and screams from the property Saturday night, local media reports said.
Asked about how the victims died, Taylor said police were not sure, but there was a "possible shooting" of the two victims recovered Sunday morning. As for the other four, Taylor said it was "unclear whether they drowned, or whether they were already demised when they went into the pond. We don't know."
The bodies will undergo autopsies to determine cause of death, Taylor said.