Laurel, Nebraska: Arrested in quadruple homicide after victims were found dead in fires at 2 homes

Jason A. Jones, 42, of Laurel, was taken into custody early Friday, Nebraska State Police Col. John Bolduc said.

Jones suffered severe burns over much of his body and was airlifted to a hospital in Lincoln, where he was in serious condition, Bolduc said.

Jones was arrested on probable cause homicide charges but has not yet been arrested as he remains in hospital, Bolduc said. It was not immediately possible to determine whether he was represented by a lawyer.

Police said the gunshots were believed to have “played a role” in the incidents at the two homes.

Crime scene investigators obtained physical evidence at both fire scenes that pointed to a suspect who lived directly across from one of the fires. Bolduc credited firefighters with putting out the fires while preserving evidence of the crimes, which led police to the suspect.

Bolduc said it was premature to talk about motive.

“I want to acknowledge the indescribable grief this community is going through right now. And it’s going to be compounded by the betrayal of trust they’re going to feel because a member of the community here is alleged to have committed these crimes,” he said. declared Bolduc. .

The four victims in the case have been identified as a family of three adults, Janet Twiford, 85, Gene Twiford, 86, and Dana Twiford, 55; and the woman found in the first house, Michele Ebeling, 53.

Just after 3 a.m. Thursday, Cedar County 911 received a phone call about an explosion at a home in the town of Laurel, Bolduc said at a news conference. When firefighters arrived, they discovered a body inside.

While investigators were at the scene, a second fire was reported a few blocks away, where authorities found “three people dead inside this residence,” Bolduc said.

“Fire crews worked diligently to put out the fire but also to preserve any evidence that may be inside the house,” Bolduc said.

Investigators said accelerators could have been used in both fires and anyone inside the homes could have been burned.

James Roberts, owner of Laurel’s Hometown Market for more than a year, said news of the deaths shocked the small town. Laurel has a population of around 1,000 and is located in Cedar County in the northeast of the state.

“Things like that don’t happen in this town,” Roberts said. “Everyone here knows everyone.”

He said the grocery store delivered food to state troopers and firefighters who responded to the scene and are stationed at a nearby church. Staff packed burgers and sandwiches including sloppy joes plus some water to show their support.

“It’s a tight-knit town,” Roberts said. “Everyone here is family.”

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