Deaths of 8 in Oklahoma home investigated as murder-suicide

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The deaths of eight family members — including six children found in a burning Oklahoma house — are under investigation as homicide-suicide, authorities said Friday. Police are trying to find out if both adults were involved in the murders.

The children, ages 1 to 13, were the victims, Broken Arrow Police Chief Brandon Berryhill said at a news conference. He did not give their identities, ages or their relationships to each other except to say that they were relatives believed to have lived in the house.

Police said both adults living in the house were considered “prime suspects” as they were found dead at the front of the house, while the children were all found in a bedroom, where the fire was under control. A police spokesperson declined to say whether authorities believe the two adults were responsible for the killings or whether it was just one of them.

“It’s because investigators are still trying to figure out what happened to eight deaths,” police spokesman Ethan Hutchins said in an email to The Associated Press.

Hutchins also said police would not be able to identify the dead adults until the medical examiner’s office has completed its work.

The cause of death is still under investigation, but Broken Arrow’s chief of fire, Jeremy Moore, said it did not appear that anyone was killed in the blaze. Weapons were found in the house, police said.

“To arrive on the scene yesterday and see the looks on the faces of our first responders and firefighters absolutely broke my heart,” Moore said Friday.

Sara Abel, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the agency is helping local police track down weapons found in the house, but she has no details on the type or number of firearms.

The fire was reported around 4 p.m. on Thursday in a quiet residential area of ​​Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, 20 miles southeast of Tulsa.

The two adults found dead at the front of the house had injuries that “appeared to be criminal in nature,” Moore said.

The children were found dead in another part of the house, he said.

Kris Welch told the Tulsa World that the couple had rented the house from her for the past eight years. She said they looked like “an ordinary family” but that she had gotten “some weird vibes from him.”

“He was wearing some T-shirts that were quite dark and strange,” Welch told the newspaper. ‘And she was quiet. Frankly, she hardly ever spoke. I’ve always wondered that.”

Neighbor Traci Treseler told the paper that the children were always on their own. She had thought only three children lived in the house and was surprised to find there were six, she said.

A similar tragedy a week ago took place in Wisconsin, where four children and two adults were found in a burning apartment in a suspected murder-suicide.

In Broken Arrow, Catelin Powers said she was driving nearby with her kids when she saw a column of smoke near her house, so she drove by to investigate.

“As I got closer to the house, I saw smoke coming out of the top of the house, which looked like maybe the attic,” she told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Two men and a woman on her phone were standing outside the house, Powers said, when another man came out the front door and dragged a seemingly unconscious, unresponsive woman. “Her arms were at her sides,” she said.

Suspecting the woman was dead, Powers said she drove on to protect her children from sight.

Tragedy has already struck Broken Arrow, Tulsa’s largest suburb of nearly 115,000 residents. In 2015, two teenage brothers killed their mother, father, two younger brothers and a 5-year-old sister at their home — which was about six miles south of Thursday’s deadly blaze.

The house where the 2015 murders took place was later demolished and the site transformed to a municipal park.

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Associated Press reporters Jake Bleiberg, Terry Wallace and Jamie Stengle in Dallas contributed to this report.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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