A small community in Kentucky is grieving after a man allegedly murdered his parents, his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s mother before turning a gun on himself on Sunday.
Joseph Nickell’s parents James and Arlene Nickell, age 75 and 70, were found shot to death in a Flatgap home. Joseph's girlfriend 41-year-old Lindsey Vanhoose, and her mother 57-year-old Patricia Vanhoose, were found fatally at another home nearby, State Police Trooper William Petry said in a statement. The body of Joseph was found in the same home of his girlfriend and her mother, and police are calling the deaths a murder-suicide, Fox News reported.
Johnson County Coroner J.R. Frisby told the Lexington Herald-Leader that all four victims were shot once each with a 9mm handgun and that there were no signs of a struggle before the shooting. Frisby said he believes that the parents just finished baking a cake when they were shot without warning. Joseph reportedly lived with his parents.
The Nickell family’s pastor, James Kelly Caudill, told The Lexington Herald-Leader that the alleged shooter struggled with drugs. Caudill said that after Joseph’s sister died a few months ago, Joseph, 45, appeared to suffer from some sort of relapse.
“This boy […] he just never did really get over that. I think it just inflamed his addiction,” said Caudill. “It just come to a head.”
Joseph owned numerous firearms, as is evident from his own Facebook posts, reported Fox News.
Johnson County Sheriff Dwayne Price wrote an emotional Facebook post in response to the deaths.
“Working a murder is never easy,” he wrote. “Working the murders of four innocent people that are part of your community is even tougher.”