Nebraska State Patrol gives account of deadly night in Laurel

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Nebraska State Patrol arrested a suspect early Friday morning and identified the four victims in Laurel’s homicide investigation.

During a press conference at 9:30 a.m., the patrol said it arrested Jason Jones, 42, of Laurel after evidence at both crime scenes led investigators to him.

According to an affidavit of Investigator Michael Henry, law enforcement thinks the homicides were premeditated.

Shortly after 3:10 a.m. on Thursday, Cedar County Dispatch received reports of an explosion at 209 Elm St.

Laurel Fire and EMS found Michele Ebeling, 53, lying inside the back door of the residence with a bullet casing next to her.

Ebeling suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Burn marks were found on the floor, walls and furniture.  Court documents say gasoline and smoke could be smelled from outside the residence.

Once officers received a search warrant, they found a trail of gasoline on the floor along with a red fuel container.

In the kitchen, a black backpack was found with several receipts from purchases for gas, a gas can, a fuel tank and a camping backpack.

All cards that were listed on the receipts belonged to Jones, authorities say.

Later Thursday morning, crime scene investigators were called to 503 Elm St. on reports of smoke coming from the residence.

Three victims, all residents of the home, were found dead with gunshot wounds.

The victims have been identified as Gene Twiford, 86, Janet Twiford, 85, and Dana Twiford, 55.

Investigators found a pry bar that was used to access the home, a Molotov cocktail and a firearm magazine.

After entering the home, investigators found a pistol belonging to Jones in the living room, said Henry.

Once investigators gathered enough information to believe that Jones was involved with the homicides, they obtained an arrest warrant.

A SWAT team made multiple attempts for Jones to exit the home voluntarily early Friday morning but eventually had to enter the home.

Jones was found in a bedroom with severe burns.  He was flown to St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Lincoln for treatment.

As of Friday afternoon, Jones remains in custody at the hospital.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Several agencies have been involved in the response and investigation, including the volunteer fire departments of Laurel, Wayne, and Beldon, the State Fire Marshal Agency, the Cedar County Attorney’s Office, the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, the Laurel Police Department, Cedar County Sheriff’s Office and the Nebraska State Patrol.

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