Iraq war vet suspected of mass murder found dead video

REUTERS

Search continues for man suspected of killing 6 family members. Julie Noce reports.

A US former Marine and Iraq war veteran accused of murdering his ex-wife and five members of her family has been found dead in woods near his home.

Bradley Stone's body was found in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania a day after he shot dead ex-wife Nicole Hill, her grandmother, sister, brother-in-law and niece.

Police said the couple were locked in a custody battle since an acrimonious divorce and neighbours told media that they were repeatedly overheard arguing.

Police at the scene of the shooting in Souderton.
HARRY FISHER / TNS

Police at the scene of the shooting in Souderton.

As the manhunt dragged on for two days four schools within a few kilometres of Stone's home closed, and other schools were on lockdown.

The killings and the manhunt echoed another recent Pennsylvania tragedy - Eric Frein's 48 days on the run through the Poconos after the ambush slaying of a state trooper in September.

The rampage unfolded in the towns of Harleysville, Lansdale and Souderton.

A special weapons officer heads toward the command center in Souderton, Pennsylvania.
HARRY FISHER / TNS

A special weapons officer heads toward the command center in Souderton, Pennsylvania.

Stone's former wife, 33-year-old Nicole Stone, was found dead in her apartment after a neighbour saw Stone fleeing around 5am with their two young daughters, authorities said. The girls were later found safe with Stone's neighbours.

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.

SWAT teams surrounded Stone's Pennsburg home for hours on Monday and demanded through a bullhorn that the Iraq War veteran give himself up. But he was gone.

A map of the shooting locations.

A map of the shooting locations.

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 December 9 ruling remained sealed in court files.

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"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 neighbour in Harleysville.

"I'm (angry) because he could have come to my door and I could have taken him to a treatment centre, and we could have worked this out," said longtime friend Matthew Schafte.

ALLEGED KILLER: Bradley William Stone, 35, is accused of killing six family members.
Reuters / Montgomery County District Attorney's Office

ALLEGED KILLER: Bradley William Stone, 35, is accused of killing six family members.

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, neighbours said.

 - AP

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