(CNN) — The body of a Pennsylvania man suspected of killing his ex-wife and five former in-laws has been found, with apparent self-inflicted wounds, authorities said Tuesday.
Bradley William Stone, a former Marine reservist, had been on the run since Monday’s slayings shook small communities north of Philadelphia.
His body was found in a wooded area about 1/2 mile from his home in Pennsburg, said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. It was not immediately clear how long the remains had been there.
Although a final report from the coroner is pending, Stone appears to have died from self-inflicted cutting wounds, in the center of his body, Ferman said.
Before this week, Harleysville felt like such a safe and quiet town to Don Hoff, the owner of a hardware store that residents treated like a kind of gathering place.
The 55-year-old said that he and his employees felt “very unsettled” and “uncertain” with the specter of an alleged killer somewhere out there who officials said was likely armed and dangerous.
The hardware store is a kind of gathering place for locals, he said, and there’s been a lot of talk about the manhunt.
“The conversation people have had…’Wow, I feel like the world has changed,'” Hoff said, who added that he happened to go out shopping for a gun on Sunday, the day before the slayings and, now, that desire to own a firearm has only grown stronger.
He said he’s pleased with how the police have helped check on the store at night, but he’s doing what he can to help his staff stay safe. He plans to review with his employees where panic buttons are located in the store and the business’ safety procedures.
One of his employees posted a photo of Stone in the store to make sure colleagues know what the alleged killer looks like.
The killings broke the calm in several small towns in Montgomery County, the second wealthiest county in Pennsylvania and the 51st wealthiest in the United States, according to the county government web page.
The Upper Perkiomen School District called off classes Tuesday. An announcement on the district’s website said decisions about reopening schools will be made on a daily basis.
Monday night, law enforcement followed leads that didn’t pan out, Ferman explained.
Doylestown Township Police investigated a man resembling Stone who allegedly tried to rob a man walking his dog, authorities said.
A person with a knife demanded the man’s car keys, but ran after they struggled. The dog owner had a gun and fired multiple shots at the suspect, who was last seen running from the area, police said.
Authorities with K-9 units rushed to the scene, and ordered residents to stay inside their homes.
Early Monday morning, a hangup call to 911 first tipped off police to the bloodshed, directing them to Lansdale, 28 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
When police arrived, they found two slain women: Stone’s former mother-in-law and former grandmother-in-law, Ferman said.
A short time later, a neighbor of Stone’s ex-wife called 911, the prosecutor explained. Police went to an apartment in Lower Salford and found 33-year-old Nicole Stone dead.
“I heard three or four gunshots and I heard the kids yelling, saying, ‘Mommy, no. No, mommy, no.’ And he just said, ‘Let’s go. We gotta go,'” a neighbor who did not want to be identified told CNN affiliate WFMZ. “I heard him say, ‘Let’s go. We gotta get in the car.'”
“They didn’t have any coats on or anything,” the neighbor added. “They just had their pajamas on, and he just said, ‘We gotta go.’ He was like, ‘She’s hurt. She’s hurt pretty bad. We have to leave.’ And just got in the car and sped off.”
In addition to Nicole Stone, her mother, grandmother and sister were also found dead, as well as the sister’s husband and 14-year-old daughter, Ferman said.
The sister’s 17-year-old son was wounded and was being treated at a Philadelphia hospital. Ferman said Tuesday that the teen is in serious condition.
But Stone didn’t harm his two daughters, who were living with his ex-wife. At about 5:30 a.m., he brought them to a neighbor’s residence in Pennsburg, according to Ferman.
“That was the last time he was seen by anyone,” the attorney said. “I think it’s of great significance the children are safe right now.”
Ferman said Stone and his ex-wife had been involved with ongoing custody disputes.
“That was a very contentious, protracted set of disputes, and we learned that just last week he had made an effort in court to try to secure custody — emergency custody of the children — and that was denied,” she said.
Who is Stone?
According to Montgomery County court documents found online, the Stones divorced in 2009.
Stone served as a reservist in the U.S. Marines until 2011, mainly as a meteorologist, according to the Marines. He spent a few months in Iraq in 2008.
William Schafte of Harleysville, who described himself as a friend, called Stone a “good guy” who helped people who needed money or a hand, according to the Morning Call newspaper of Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Stone served as president of the American Legion William E. Hare Post 206 in Lansdale about a decade ago, said the current post commander John Gillmer, the Morning Call reported.
“He was always on the honor guard and stuff like that for parades,” Gillmer told the Morning Call. “I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it. … I never would have thought it was one of our guys.”
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