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Town Anxious for Answers in Murders

February 15, 1998

NOBLE, Ill. (AP) _ Relatives of a teen-ager accused of bludgeoning five people to death described him as a boy who liked music and poetry, although others saw a different side.

``He’s always getting in fights,″ said Don Johnson, who said he knew the 16-year-old suspect from school.

Kaci Richardson said she saw the suspect at a store three nights before the killings in the small town about 80 miles southwest of Terre Haute, Ind. He bought horror movies, wrestling magazines and some comic books, she said.

``He was creepy,″ she said.

The decomposing bodies were discovered Friday night. Debra Smith, 35, Jonathan Lloyd, 17, and Smith’s three children _ Jennifer, 12, Korey, 10, and Kenneth, 8 _ died a week ago Sunday. Lloyd was the suspect’s half-brother.

The suspect, whose name has not been released because of his age, was arrested at his mother’s home a block away early Saturday.

He remained jailed Sunday in a youth center, charged with one count of first-degree murder. Investigators refused to discuss a possible motive. Police said the juvenile had given them a statement, but declined to release its contents.

``It doesn’t make any sense to anyone. We’re all wondering why,″ said Damien Worrell, who lives two houses away.

Police said Sunday that the five died of massive trauma to the head from a blunt instrument recovered inside the home. They declined to identify the weapon, but relatives of the suspect said they had been told it was a hammer.

The coroner’s office said some of the victims died in their sleep. Investigators found two bodies in a bedroom and two more in the living room. The fifth body had been moved around inside the home, Sheriff Gary Dowty said.

Relatives called the suspect a quiet child interested in music and poetry, prone to scraps with his brother but not violent.

Like their neighbors, the suspect’s family had no answers for what might have happened.

``I’ve got four brothers and I fought with them all the time,″ said Norm Churchill, the suspect’s uncle. ``But I didn’t go out and murder any of them.″

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