Authorities had been searching overnight for Devin, whose name was released because he initially was said to be missing from the crime scene. But the child’s body was found in a small hidden area of the home early Thursday.
“He was hidden in a location that wasn’t obvious for law enforcement to find,” said Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless, who declined to give details.
“Devin was widely liked by all the staff and students,” said Wes Hairston, superintendent of Rock Creek Local Schools. “It’s a tragedy that someone this young would perish by someone in a senseless act of hate or violence.”
Authorities weren’t releasing the names of the other dead, all presumed to be relatives of Devin’s, nor a motive, pending notification of family and a “complete and thorough investigation,” Lawless said. The bodies have been taken to the Montgomery County coroner’s office for autopsies.
“What we have here is a horrible tragedy,” he said.
Helicopters, police dogs and a small army of police and deputies — more than 100 from a dozen departments from three states — scoured the countryside for hours, hoping to pick up a scent or a lead to Lawson’s presence. With nightfall, all but a few were called back in.
A State Highway Patrol airplane with special nightsearch technology was being deployed.
Lawson, who has a full beard, is believed to be wearing a pink or orange shirt and blue jeans. He was described as 5 feet 9 inches tall and 139 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes.
“He’s getting tired. He’s getting hungry,” said Lawless as a group of cruisers sped away behind him, responding to one of many reports of a possible sighting. “We want to bring him to justice and make him answer to what he was doing.”
The area just north of Ironton, about 110 miles south of Columbus in southern Ohio, is surrounded by the Wayne National Forest. Patrol cruisers dotted the roadside along the woodland. The search area expanded. “It’s a vast area now,” said Lawless.
Those who say they knew the victims have been in shock over the news and worried about their own safety.
Kyle Evans’ family owns the trailer that the family lived in, and he lives on a farm nearby.
“You know these people, and you see them every day, and they help you around the farm,” Evans said. “It’s hard. My heart breaks for them.”
“I sat up all night with a pistol,” said one man who didn’t want to be named. Pointing to his high-performance Chevrolet Camaro, he said: “If he’s looking to get out of town, this is the fastest car in town.”
Glenna Jenkins lives near the cemetery where Lawson was last seen.
“It terrifies me. I worry about the elderly in the community,” she said. “I hope they catch him.”
More than 100 law-enforcement officers from three states searched late into Thursday night for Arron Lawrence, who has been charged with murder in the quadruple shooting at a trailer near Ironton.