CITRONELLE, Ala. (AP) — The suspect in the killing of five people at a home in Alabama attacked them while they slept and then abducted his estranged girlfriend and an infant — both of whom were found alive, authorities said Sunday.
It could take investigators days to sort out the grisly murder scene in Citronelle, a small town 30 miles northwest of Mobile. Authorities said the dead included a pregnant woman and were found Saturday afternoon inside the home.
Capt. Paul Burch of the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office said the crime was of a magnitude rarely if ever seen in this corner of rural, southern Alabama.
“It’s unprecedented here,” Burch told The Associated Press.
Earlier, Burch told reporters at the scene that investigators expect to be at the scene for a couple days. “It’s obviously a horrific scene,” he said.
Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich told reporters near the scene that in her 20-year career as a prosecutor, she’s never encountered a crime “where there were five people who were brutally and viciously murdered, and that’s what we have here.”
She said “multiple weapons” were used.
Derrick Dearman of Leakesville, Mississippi, was taken into custody after he walked into the Greene County Sheriff’s Office Saturday afternoon and confessed to the crimes, Burch said.
Dearman will be charged with six counts of capital murder, Mobile County sheriff’s spokeswoman Lori Myles said Sunday. Five counts stem from the killing of the adults, and the additional count is because one of the slaying victims was pregnant, Myles said.
Though connections between Dearman and the five people killed were not immediately clear, investigators have determined that his ex-girlfriend, Laneta Lester, had gone to the home on Aug. 19 to get away from an abusive relationship with Dearman, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. Lester was staying with a relative there.
Around 1 a.m. Saturday, someone inside the residence called 911 and reported that Dearman was on the property, the statement said. Citronelle police came to the house, but Dearman had left before the officers arrived, sheriff’s officials said.
Later, sometime between 1:15 a.m. and daylight Saturday, Dearman returned to the home and attacked the victims while they were sleeping, the statement said. After the killings, Dearman forced Lester and the 3-month-old infant — the child of the one of the murder victims — into a vehicle at the residence. The three drove to the Mississippi home of Dearman’s father.
After they arrived there, Dearman released Laneta and the infant and then turned himself in to authorities in Mississippi, Burch said.
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