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Police ID five family members fatally shot in Illinois

Ted Schurter / AP

Police officials investigate the scene at a house in Manchester, Ill., on Wednesday where five people were found shot to death.

Police on Thursday identified the victims in the grisly shooting deaths of five people in a tiny south-central Illinois town the day before — but why they were gunned down remains a mystery.


A pregnant mother, father and their two young boys as well as a grandmother were identified as the victims in shooting rampage in a Manchester, Ill., officials said.

Illinois State Police / Reuters

Rick Odell Smith, 43, in and undated photo provided by police.

State police say the victims are: Brantley Ralston,1, Nolan Ralston, 5, and their parents James Ralston, 23 and Brittney Luark, 23. Jo Ann Sinclair, 57, Luark’s grandmother was also identified as among the dead.

Though investigators are still trying to determine what precisely took place, police have identified Rick Odell Smith, 43, as a suspect.

Police say Smith, carrying a shotgun, forcibly entered the family’s Manchester, Ill., home through a backdoor on Wednesday and gunned them all down.

Only a 6-year-old girl survived.

Smith, who is the nephew of Manchester’s mayor, is believed to have known the family but police have not provided details on his relationship and his motive is unknown.

Police say all the victims were shot at close range with a shotgun. Four were in their bedrooms and the father in the hallway. The 6-year-old was injured and taken to the hospital where she remains in critical condition.

"The offender took the 6-year-old out of the residence and put her in the hands of a neighbor," state police Lt. Col. Todd Kilby said.

Smith fled in a white sedan, was chased by police and at some point exited his car and pointed his weapon at officers and fired, according to a news release from Illinois state police. Officers shot Smith. He died later at a hospital.

Police say they found a rifle, shotgun and large hunting knife in Smith’s car.

It was the first homicide in Scott County Illinois since 1993, according to state police, and the first multiple homicide.

Related: Five people murdered in small Illinois town