Five family members found shot to death

Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2000

WARRENSBURG, Mo. (AP) -- A woman and four of her children were shot to death at their home in a remote area in west-central Missouri. Her two other children were wounded.

A man was taken into custody Monday at the scene of the shooting at a house built into the side of a hill. Authorities would not talk about what relationship he had to the woman and six children and refused to release his name.

Johnson County Sheriff Chuck Heiss said he expected charges to be filed against the man by Tuesday morning.

A neighbor said the victims were part of a family that lived in an underground house of a type that is popular in this area east of Kansas City because of its energy-saving characteristics.

Della Davis, the nearest neighbor in the rural area, described the family as religious and said the children were often seen bicycling and fishing at a nearby pond.

''You couldn't come across sweeter people,'' Davis said. ''If I needed anything they were here for me.''

The two survivors, both girls -- one described as an infant, the other as 3 years old -- were taken to Western Missouri Medical Center and were later transferred to another hospital for treatment. The 3-year-old was in critical condition Monday night and the infant was in fair condition.

Heiss identified the victims as Tina Wood, 31, and her children, Jared, 10, Joshua, 8, Emily, 7, and Hannah, 5. Wood grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, and lived for a time in Anchorage. It was unclear when she moved to Missouri.

Heiss had little to say about the crime. ''I don't mean to put you off, but it's just too early,'' he said.

He would not describe the location of the crime or whether the victims were inside or outside the house. ''We may not know for quite some time'' what happened.

Dispatcher Pat Leighter said that ''everybody who's been out there looks like they've been to a war.'' She said the sheriff had carried one of the bloodied survivors into the hospital's emergency room.

She said all the victims were shot with some kind of rifle.

Leighter said the sheriff's office received two 911 calls about 8:35 a.m. -- one from inside the house, another from a neighbor -- about a disturbance at the home.

The shootings occurred in a rural, heavily wooded area off a dirt road near Montserrat, about four miles east of this university town. Sheriff's cars guarded the driveway leading into the property Monday afternoon as chickens and geese roamed across the yard.

Gerri Kent, a neighbor, said the family lived in an earth contact home, a ''partially underground shelter,'' about a quarter-mile off the road. Tow trucks called to the scene Monday afternoon went to an area that was not visible from the road.

''We know these people because we have gone to church with them. We've known them for quite some time,'' Kent said.

''What I do know is this whole family, the extended family and the young couple -- just real sweet, good people,'' she said.

She said the woman home-schooled their children. ''She was one of the outstanding young mothers who wanted to do everything right for her kids,'' she said.

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