Five people shot to death in rural Illinois town

By WEEK Producer

April 24, 2013 Updated Apr 25, 2013 at 1:40 PM CDT

MANCHESTER, Ill. -- Scott County authorities are investigating the slayings of five people whose bodies were found in a house in the tiny community of Manchester.

The suspect in the slayings has reportedly been killed.

Law enforcement officials have confirmed the identity of the five victims. James Roy Ralston, 29, father of 2 deceased children; Brittney Luark, 23, mother of 2 deceased children and granddaughter of Jo Ann Sinclair; Jo Ann Sinclair, 67, grandmother to Brittney and great-grandmother to the 2 deceased children; Nolan J. Ralston, 5, son of James and Brittney; Brantley Ralston, 1, son of James Ralston and Brittney Luark. The sixth victim is a six year old child who remains hospitalized and remains in serious condition. The Cornor's Office also confirmed that Brittney Luark was also pregnant.

Illinois State Police say the victims were found deceased at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning in the southwestern Illinois community, 50 miles west of Springfield.

Two of the bodies were discovered in one bedroom, two bodies in another bedroom, and one male adult was discovered in the hallway. A 6-year-old female child also suffered gunshot wounds and remains in critical condition at a Springfield hospital.

Police say it appears that the offender forced entry from the backdoor. Based on the shell casings located at the crime scene, it appears that the weapon used was a shotgun fired at close range. Illinois State Police Crime Scene Services is analyzing forensic and ballistic evidence.

Based on witness statements, the offender took the 6 year old outside of the residence and put her in the hands of a neighbor.

"Based on witness statements at the time, the suspect fled the area in a white Chevy Lumina," said Lt. Colonel Todd Kibly. "Law enforcement from numerous agencies responded to the area and at approximately 7:13 this [Wednesday] morning a pursuit ensued with Illinois State Police and Winchester city police when they had the suspect in view. Shots were exchanged and police took the suspect into custody while he was in possession of multiple weapons at approximately 7:27 this [Wednesday] morning. The suspect was then transported to an area hospital where he was later pronounced dead."

Lieutenant Colonel Todd Kilby says they are not discussing the motive.

He also says there is no reason to believe there are any further suspects in the case.

The North Greene School superintendent says he canceled classes when he was informed by the sheriff early Wednesday morning that the victims had been shot to death and at the time a suspect was at large.