By KANTELE FRANKO, Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A 7-year-old boy was shot dead and his body apparently hidden in a home where three adults were found fatally shot and a fourth was stabbed, a sheriff said Thursday as a manhunt for the suspect focused on a wooded area near Ohio's southern tip.
Authorities had issued a missing-child alert after the slayings and spent hours searching for Devin Holston only to find the child dead Thursday at the same house trailer where the bodies were found.
The suspect, 23-year-old Aaron Lawson, is being sought on warrants for charges including aggravated murder, Lawrence County Sheriff Jeffery Lawless said.
Deputies spotted Lawson around 12:30 a.m. Thursday in a blue truck in Ironton, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of where the victims were found, but they lost him after a brief chase when he crashed into a ditch and ran into the woods, Lawless said.
Lawless told the Ironton Tribune that all those involved were somehow related.
Three adults were found dead in a house trailer in an unincorporated area further north on Wednesday evening, and a fourth adult who came upon the scene after work was stabbed there and fled to seek help, the sheriff said. The wounded person was later flown to a hospital in Huntington, West Virginia.
None of the dead adults or injured victim has been identified. The sheriff's office said releasing further information would compromise the investigation.
Agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, including crime-scene and cybe-unit investigators, are assisting Lawrence County with the case, said Jill Del Greco, a spokeswoman for BCI and the state attorney general's office.
Lawless said schools in the Rock Hill district were closed Thursday because of the attacks.
The initial report about the slayings — violence against multiple people found at properties of related residents — recalled details from a still-unsolved homicide case that rattled rural southern Ohio last year. But investigators have no indication of a connection between the cases, Del Greco said.
The deaths on Wednesday occurred roughly 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of the Piketon area, where eight people from the Rhoden family were found shot to death in four homes in April 2016.