An Iraq War veteran suspected of killing his ex-wife and five of her relatives was found dead of self-inflicted knife wounds on Tuesday, ending a day-and-a-half manhunt that closed suburban Philadelphia schools and left people on edge.
Bradley William Stone’s body was discovered in the woods about 1km from his Pennsburg home, approximately 48km northwest of Philadelphia. He had cuts in the center of his body, District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said.
Stone, a 35-year-old former US Marine Corps sergeant who was in a custody dispute so bitter that his ex-wife feared for her life, went on a 90-minute shooting rampage early Monday morning at three homes a few kilometers apart, authorities said.
The killings set off the second major manhunt to transfix Pennsylvania in the past few months. Eric Frein spent 48 days at large in the Poconos after the September ambush slaying of a state trooper.
As the manhunt for Stone dragged on — with SWAT teams swarming through neighborhoods and the Philadelphia police sending in a heat-sensing helicopter — at least five schools within a few kilometers of Stone’s Pennsburg home closed and others were locked down. Veterans’ hospitals and other places tightened security.
The rampage unfolded in the towns of Harleysville, Lansdale and Souderton.
Stone’s former wife, 33-year-old Nicole Stone, was found dead in her apartment after a neighbor saw Stone fleeing around 5am with their two young daughters, authorities said. The girls were later found safe with Stone’s neighbors.
Police went to two other homes and discovered five more people dead: Nicole Stone’s mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law and 14-year-old niece. A 17-year-old nephew suffered wounds to the head and hands, and Ferman said he was in a “very serious” condition.
Stone and his ex-wife had fighting over their children’s custody since she filed for divorce in 2009. He filed an emergency request for custody this month and was denied on Tuesday last week, Ferman said.
Neighbors said Nicole Stone lived in such fear of her ex-husband that she would sometimes ask her apartment complex’s maintenance staff to go in and check her place first because she was afraid he might be lying in wait.
“He would call and just harass her and threaten her,” neighbor Michele Brewster said. “She shouldn’t have had to live in terror.”
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