Five people, ranging in age from 16 to 68, were found dead in a Troup County, Georgia, home Saturday night. Investigators now believe they were murdered by the husband of one of the victims, 26-year-old Thomas Jesse Lee, who was still on the run by Monday afternoon, leaving police clueless as to where he might have gone.
In fact, the police are not even sure when the murders took place — or why.
They say that the massacre probably happened sometime in the previous week. Officers visited the home on Woodstream Trail in LaGrange, about 70 miles south of Atlanta, in response to a call from one of the victim’s employers, who reported that the person had failed to show up for work for at least two days without calling in.
When Troup County sheriff’s deputies arrived a little after 10 p.m. on Saturday, they found the five bodies, each in a separate room of the home. Four of the five were women, and four were killed by gunshots, police said. There was no information reported on how the fifth victim was killed.
Even though the victims included Thomas Lee’s wife, 33-year-old Christie Lee, and all of the victims lived in the home — as did Lee, police believe — there had been no previous reports of domestic violence, abuse or threats, at least none that police or neighbors interviewed by local media were aware of.
But there may have been a recent argument that ended with the massacre, investigators searching for Lee said.
“He is not here at the home and we understand there may have been a dispute or something between one of the victims here,” said sheriff’s department Sgt. Stewart Smith. “We have not been able to make contact with him at all.”
If Lee turns out to be the killer, the case would be the second in the United States in just the past two months in which a man went on a killing rampage, slaughtering his wife and her family. In December, outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ex-Marine Bradley Stone killed his wife and five of her family members, then later committed suicide.
In addition to Christie Lee, the others found dead in the Georgia home were William and Sheila Burton, ages 69 and 68, who owned the home, and 16-year-old Bailey Burton, Christie Lee’s daughter from a previous relationship. The final victim found in the home was Iiaonna Green, 18, who lived in the house with the family members.
As for Thomas Jesse Lee, police say that he is driving an olive-green Mazda Tribute SUV with a Georgia license plate number BRN0785.
Otherwise, they say that they are asking for the public’s help in tracking Lee down.
“We don’t have any solid leads on where this guy might be right now,” said Smith.
Though four of the victims, police say, were shot to death, investigators did not locate a firearm in the home where the five bodies were found. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assisting Troup County deputies in the hunt for Thomas Jesse Lee.