A FORMER Marine suspected of killing his ex-wife and five of her relatives was found dead in the woods near his suburban Philadelphia home yesterday after a day-and-a-half manhunt that closed schools and left people on edge.
District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said on her official Facebook page that police had found Bradley William Stone’s body. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Stone, a 35-year-old Iraq War veteran locked in a custody dispute so bitter that his ex-wife feared for her life, went on a 90-minute shooting rampage before dawn on Monday at three homes a few miles apart, authorities said.
The killing spree set off a major manhunt in Pennsylvania. Swat teams made their way through neighbourhoods, and the Philadelphia police sent in a heat-sensing helicopter.
At least five schools within a few miles of Stone’s Pennsburg home were closed. Veterans’ hospitals and other places tightened security.
The rampage unfolded in the towns of Harleysville, Lansdale and Souderton.
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Bradley Stone’s former wife, 33-year-old Nicole Stone, was found dead in her apartment after a neighbour saw him fleeing at around 5am with their two young daughters, authorities said. The girls were later found safe with Stone’s neighbours.
Police went to two other homes and discovered five more people dead: Nicole Stone’s mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law and 14-year-old niece. A 17-year-old nephew was wounded in the head, and Ms Ferman said he was in a “very serious” condition.
Bradley Stone and his ex-wife had been fighting over their children’s custody since she filed for divorce in 2009. He filed an emergency motion this month.
Neighbours said Nicole Stone lived in such fear of her ex-husband that she would sometimes ask her apartment complex’s maintenance staff to go in and check her place first because she was afraid he might be lying in wait.
“He would call and just harass her and threaten her,” said neighbour Michele Brewser. “She shouldn’t have had to live in terror.”
“She would tell anybody who would listen that he was going to kill her and that she was really afraid for her life,” said Evan Weron, another neighbour in Harleysville.
Bradley Stone was in the Marines from 2002 until 2008. The former sergeant’s occupational speciality was listed as “artillery meteorological man”.
He told a 2011 child support hearing that the US Department of Veterans Affairs deemed him permanently disabled and that he was collecting benefits from the agency, according to court documents.
The agency made no comment yesterday.
A longtime friend, Matthew Schafte, said he was not aware of any injuries that Bradley Stone may have suffered as a Marine.
Stone had faced several driving-under-the-influence charges, one of which was handled in veterans’ court and led to a three to 23-month sentence.
Bradley Stone remarried last year, according to his Facebook page and court records, and had an infant son.
Neither his wife nor the son was injured in the shooting rampage.
Nicole Stone became engaged over the summer, neighbours said.
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