By Calvin Palmer
A small Illinois farming community is coming to terms with what police describe as a “brutal homicide against an entire family”.
A couple and three of their children were found murdered in their home in Beason, about 140 miles southwest of Chicago.
The bodies were discovered yesterday afternoon after police responded to a 911 call about possible shots being fired at the address, Logan County Sheriff Steven Nichols said at a news conference this morning.
Nichols declined to provide details about the crime scene or the suspected cause of death, but an autopsy was scheduled for later today.
He said detectives were trying to identify possible suspects, and that those responsible for the killings should be considered “armed and dangerous.”
Nichols identified the victims as Raymond “Rick” Gee, 46; Ruth Gee, 39; Justina Constant, 16, Dillen Constant, 14; and Austin Gee, 11.
A three-year-old girl survived the attack and was taken to a hospital in Peoria, he said. She was later identified as the couple’s daughter Tabitha Gee.
Raymond Gee worked in construction and his wife was a stay-at-home mother. They attended church with their children, who waited each morning at the town’s post office for the school bus.
Dale Day, who lives a few blocks from the home where the bodies were found, said he would arm himself to be ready for any trouble that might come his way.
“Now I have my 9 mm loaded, cocked and ready to fire if someone breaks into my house,” Day said.
Residents seldom considered locking their doors at night in this community of a few hundred people.
“Not many people lock their doors here,” said Brittney Fillmore, 14, who knew both Justina and Dillen from high school. “Something like this isn’t what you’d expect especially happening in a small town where everybody knows each other.”
About 70 people crowded into a small Methodist church, where a pastor tried to comfort them, particularly the 30 or so children among them.
“Just think of this family as up in Heaven having fun, doing the things that make them happy,” the Rev Dale Badman told those gathered. “They don’t want you to be burdened by fear, they don’t want you to be burdened by pain.”
Robert Bagby, the superintendent of Lincoln Community High School, where Justine Constant was a sophomore, described her as “a very vibrant, likable young lady who had a lot of friends.”
Bagby said counselors were at the school for students who needed them.
[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]