PENNSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Police searching for an ex-Marine suspected of killing his ex-wife and five of her relatives discovered a body in the woods near his suburban Philadelphia home Tuesday after a day-and-a-half manhunt.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said investigators were awaiting identification of the body. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Authorities said Bradley William Stone, a 35-year-old Iraq War veteran locked in a custody dispute with his ex-wife, went on a 90-minute shooting rampage before daybreak Monday at three homes a few miles apart.
As the manhunt dragged on, at least five schools within a few miles of Stone’s Pennsburg home closed, and other schools were put on lockdown. Hospitals and other public places tightened security as SWAT teams and local, state and federal law enforcement swarmed across the area.
It was the second major manhunt to transfix Pennsylvania in recent months. Eric Frein spent 48 days on the run through the Poconos after the ambush slaying of a state trooper in September.
Monday’s rampage unfolded in the towns of Harleysville, Lansdale and Souderton.
Stone’s former wife, 33-year-old Nicole Stone, was found dead in her apartment after a neighbor saw Stone fleeing around 5 a.m. with their two young daughters, authorities said. The girls were later found safe with Stone’s neighbors.
Police discovered five more people dead in two other homes: Nicole Stone’s mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law and 14-year-old niece. A 17-year-old nephew was wounded in the head, and Ferman said he was in “very serious” condition.
Stone and his ex-wife had fighting over their children’s custody since she filed for divorce in 2009. He filed an emergency motion this month, although the resulting Dec. 9 ruling remained sealed in court files.
“She would tell anybody who would listen that he was going to kill her and that she was really afraid for her life,” said Evan Weron, a neighbor in Harleysville.
Ferman would not discuss the weapon or weapons used in the slayings and said authorities did not know if Stone was on foot.
Stone was probably wearing military fatigues and may have shaved off his facial hair, Ferman said. She added that he sometimes used a cane or walker.
“I’m (angry) because he could have come to my door and I could have taken him to a treatment center, and we could have worked this out,” said longtime friend Matthew Schafte.
Stone was in the Marines from 2002 through 2008. The former sergeant’s occupational specialty was listed as “artillery meteorological man.”
Schafte said he was not aware of any injuries Stone may have suffered as a Marine.
Stone had faced several driving-under-the-influence charges, one of which was handled in veterans’ court and led to a three- to 23-month sentence.
He remarried last year, according to his Facebook page and court records, and has an infant son. Neither his wife nor the son was injured. Nicole Stone became engaged over the summer, neighbors said.
Dale reported from Harleysville. Associated Press writer Kathy Matheson contributed from Souderton and Harleysville.
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