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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mom, 3 children, dead in triple murder-suicide

Michelle Stone, 34, and three of her children - Richard, 8, Audrianna, 5 and Keagan, 4 - died of gunshot wounds. (Seen in a Facebook photograph from earlier this year were Siera, 16, from left, Rick, Michelle, Alexis, Richard, and Freddy. In front are Audrianna and Keagan)


The bodies of a mother and three of her young children found Thursday evening in a burning trailer all had gunshot wounds, Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas revealed late Friday night.
Thomas said preliminary autopsy reports in Lubbock now indicate the case is a triple-homicide and suicide.
The victims have been identified as Michelle Stone, 34; Richard Stone, 8; Audrianna Stone, 5; and Keegan Stone, 4.
Their bodies were discovered in a burning RV trailer Thursday night after one of the Stone children came to a neighbor’s door and said their house was on fire.
The deceased are survived by the husband and father, Rick Stone, and two older children, Alexis, 11, and Siera, 16.
Responding to a 911 call at about 5 p.m., Potter County Fire and Potter County Sheriff’s deputies arrived in the 4100 block of Brook Hollow to discover a Challenger by Keystone extended fifth-wheel RV trailer on fire.
Investigators were on the scene late into the night Thursday and were there again at first light on Friday trying to determine the cause of death and how the fire started inside the trailer.
According to the release sent out by PCSO, evidence collected at the scene and at autopsy revealed Michelle, Richard and Keagan all died from a single gunshot wound to the upper body, while Audrianna died from a pair of gunshot wounds to the upper body.
The three children who perished in the murder/suicide were in first grade, kindergarten and pre-kindergarten at nearby Rolling Hills Elementary, part of the River Road Independent School District, according to River Road ISD Superintendent Richard Kelley.
The school is located approximately one mile from where the incident took place.
Kelley said that the district had called in outside Friday to help assist teachers and students coping with the loss.
“Right now we’ve brought in a crisis team to help with the grieving process,” Kelley said.
“This has affected our entire district. We’ve contacted the parents of students in their classes just to let them know what’s going on and let families know we have a plan in place.”
Kelley also added that the district will bring its own crisis unit Monday to speak to the classes that the children were in and any others struggling to deal with the tragedy.
“We’re working with kids, parents and staff if they need help,” Kelley said. “It’s a horrible day for the family, for our teachers and students, but the outpouring of support we have seen from the community has been outstanding.”
According to neighbors, Rick Stone was out of town in Arizona at the time of the fire. The family had been living at the location for around six months, and neighbors said the Stones had moved to the location and started construction on a pole barn, as well as moving a manufactured home to the site, around June.
“Wonderful family,” a male neighbor said Friday morning before the results of the autopsy were known. “They loved it here, instantly. Their kids were some of the smartest kids I’ve ever met. We’re tore up about the kids; they were around every day. They’d get off of the school bus at the corner and walk down the street, sometimes they’d come over and visit. Almost contact with them daily, even if it was just coming home from school.”
Neighbors who live about 50 yards east of the Stones said the saw the youngest boy, Keegan, playing in the yard around 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon, and then Michelle Stone shortly thereafter.
Approximately four hours later, at around 5 p.m., the neighbors said they were alerted to the fire by Alexis.
“It was about 5 p.m., the little girl came down here and said the house was on fire,” the male neighbor said. “Other than that, I don’t know what happened in there.”
The large tow-behind RV trailer was parked lengthwise about 8 to 10 feet away from a manufactured home that was still up on blocks, and possibly under construction, in what looks to be a developing neighborhood.
A pole barn, like the kind used for a workshop or storage, sits about 15 feet in front of the manufactured home, between the road and the front of the house.
Fire damage to the trailer could be seen on the roof and the exterior wall farthest away from the home, possibly the kitchen area of the trailer. Neither the house nor barn was damaged by the fire.
“Everything was in the trailer,” the male neighbor said of the scene. “I came over to try and fight it before the fire department showed up. You couldn’t get the doors open, the smoke was so bad.”
Around that same time is when Sheriff Thomas said a 911 call came in to dispatch from a passerby who spotted smoke coming from the trailer.
In the course of fighting the blaze, Thomas said, firefighters discovered the four bodies inside. At that point the Potter-Randall Special Crimes Unit was notified.
Potter County Justice of the Peace Precinct No. 3, Judge Gary L. Jackson, pronounced them dead at the scene ordered autopsies for the four.
As of Friday afternoon investigators had not said how the fire started.
“You hear about it on the news, but you don’t expect it to happen in your neighborhood,” neighbors said. “All the kids were smart, beautiful, polite, sweet kids. They weren’t disrespectful and always hugged you.”
Anyone with information regarding Thursday night’s fire is asked to call the Special Crimes Unit at 806-378-9468.

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