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Landlord Allegedly Burns Family of 4 in Fire Pit, Creating Horrific Scene as Police Arrive

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A Florida man has been charged with murder after he allegedly killed a family of four that had been renting a home he owned and burned their remains in a fire pit on his property.

Police say what had been a missing persons case became a homicide investigation when a man, a woman, and two children were found burned in the Hudson, Florida, yard of 25-year-old Rory Atwood.

Hudson is located in Pasco County about 45 miles north of Tampa and police said Atwood had rented a property to the family, who was reported missing last week.

Last Friday, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office put out an alert on its Facebook page asking the public to help them find 26-year-old Rain Mancini and 25-year-old Phillip Zilliot II.

Also missing were two children, Karma Zilliot age 6, and Phillip Zilliot III age 5.

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According to police and USA Today, Mancini and Phillip Zilliot II were at the home of Atwood on June 12 or June 13 just days after he evicted them from their home.

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a news conference on Saturday that human remains had been found at Atwood’s home by a cadaver dog but that the investigation was ongoing.

The discovery came after an initial search of the grounds yielded nothing suspicious.

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Nocco asked anyone keeping up with the case to pray for the family.

“If there wasn’t evil in this world, we wouldn’t have to pray as much,” he said.

According to the sheriff, Atwood claimed during an interview with investigators that 12 days after he evicted the family, the two adults showed up at his home and attacked him with a knife and a gun.

Nocco explained the suspect claimed he shot both Mancini and Phillip Zilliot II during a fight.

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He said he dragged both of them to the backyard where a fire was already burning to dispose of their bodies.

Atwood also allegedly admitted he burned a sofa in the fire pit as well as the gun that was used to shoot the couple. He also allegedly said he believed the couple’s two missing children were dead and had already been burned in the fire.

The suspect told police he believed the children were murdered by their parents before they entered his home.

Investigators did not buy Atwood’s account of the events and arrested him. He was charged with first-degree murder in the case of one “John Doe,” Nocco said.

Nocco told reporters that the human remains found in the fire pit were so badly burned and damaged that the suspect would be charged with one murder until his county’s medical examiner could determine exactly who was in the pit.

But he said there was no doubt that bone fragments on the property were human.

Atwood pleaded not guilty to murder at an initial court appearance on Monday and he is being held without bail.


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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.




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