Arrest made after 4 found dead in 2 burning homes in Nebraska city

Barricades block off a portion of Elm Street in Laurel, Neb., Thursday. The Nebraska State...
Barricades block off a portion of Elm Street in Laurel, Neb., Thursday. The Nebraska State Patrol is investigating a situation with multiple fatalities that occurred in Laurel on Thursday morning. Emergency personnel from the state patrol, Belden and the Cedar County Sheriff's Department were working in the area.(Riley Tolan-Keig/The Norfolk Daily News via AP)
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 4:26 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2022 at 10:27 AM CDT
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LAUREL, Neb. (KOLN/Gray News) - The Nebraska State Patrol arrested a man on suspicion of killing four people on his street in a small northeast Nebraska town.

Col. John Bolduc said 42-year-old Jason A. Jones was taken into custody shortly after 2:30 a.m. Friday, one day after the killings.

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

The investigation includes two crime scenes on Elm Street in Laurel. All four victims have suspected gunshots wounds and both homes were set on fire, according to the Nebraska State Patrol.

Officials said Gene Twiford, 86, and Jan Twiford, 85, and their adult daughter, Dana, 55, were found dead in their home, and 53-year-old Michelle Ebling, was found dead at a nearby home.

Physical evidence located at both scenes led investigators to identify Jones as a suspect. Investigators developed information to believe that Jones was inside his neighboring home. The SWAT Team was activated, and an arrest warrant was obtained.

Following repeated attempts to have Jones exit the home voluntarily, the SWAT Team made entry into the home and located Jones in a bedroom, with severe burns.

Jones was flown to CHI Health St. Elizabeth in Lincoln for treatment of his burn injuries. He is in custody at the hospital.

“There is no more danger to Laurel or northeast Nebraska as a result of this arrest,” Col. Bolduc said.

Laurel is home to fewer than 1,000 people and is located about 100 miles northwest of Omaha.

“Laurel is a very safe community,” said Cedar County Sheriff Larry Koranda. “It shakes everybody up.”

Most businesses, a senior center and schools in the community voluntarily went on lockdown around the time the bodies were discovered. That came at the recommendation of the city’s lone police officer, said Lori Hansen, a clerical assistant at the Laurel City Hall. But even community officials were scrambling for information about what was unfolding in the normally quiet town, she said.

“We’ve been listening to TV to try to find out what’s going on,” Hansen said.

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