Bradley William Stone
By Daniel Kelley
EAGLEVILLE, Pa. (Reuters) - An Iraq War veteran sought in the killing of six family members in Pennsylvania was found dead on Tuesday of "self-inflicted cutting wounds" following a two-day manhunt, authorities said.
Suspect Bradley William Stone, 35, of Pennsburg was being sought in the deaths on Monday of his ex-wife, her mother, grandmother, sister and two other family members, including his 14-year-old niece. His 17-year-old nephew was seriously wounded.
Stone's body was found on Tuesday afternoon in a wooded area in New Hanover Township, about a half mile (0.8 km) from his home in Pennsburg, about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Philadelphia, County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman told a news conference.
An autopsy would determine the official cause of death and how long Stone had been dead, she said.
"Based upon what we found at the scene, we believe that he died of self-inflicted cutting wounds in the center part of his body," she said.
Citing sources, WPVI-TV reported Stone killed himself with a sword and that a sword had been used in the slayings.
Stone's nephew suffered significant cuts to his hands and head and was hospitalized in stable condition.
"It certainly appears to us they were defensive in nature and that he was fighting off his attacker," Ferman said.
Stone and his ex-wife, Nicole, 33, filed for divorce in 2009 and had an ongoing custody battle over their daughters, aged 8 and 5, Ferman said.
Stone asked a court on Dec. 5 to grant him emergency custody but was denied, Ferman said.
The killing spree "certainly from a timing perspective seems to be related," Ferman said.
Local media reported Stone suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, but Ferman said to her knowledge he had not been diagnosed with PTSD.
Stone enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves in 2002, was deployed to Iraq and was honorably discharged at the rank of sergeant in 2011, according to a military spokesman.
Most of the victims suffered gunshot wounds and a .40-caliber handgun belonging to Stone was found at one of the crime scenes, according to a police affidavit filed in court on Tuesday. Several victims also had deep lacerations, and the throat of at least one victim had been cut open, the affidavit said.
Stone's daughters were unharmed. He had taken them from his ex-wife's house and left them with a neighbor soon after the attacks on Monday, Ferman said. His current wife and infant child also were safe.
The killings set off Pennsylvania's second recent high-profile manhunt after a seven-week chase to capture survivalist Eric Frein, accused of killing a state trooper in September.
(Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Additional reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Eric Beech, Bill Trott and Eric Walsh)