Eight-year-old found dead after fatal shootings in southern Ohio

Image courtesy of WCMH

PEDRO, OH (WCMH) — Four members of an Ohio family are dead, a fifth is hospitalized, and police are conducting a massive search for the man they believe is responsible.

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless says 23-year-old Arron Lawson is wanted on three counts of murder and one count of aggravated murder.

The search is focused on a wooded area of Upper Township north of Ironton. “That is a wide open area in there,” Lawless said. “It’s a strip mine area and a wooded area with caverns and caves everywhere so it’s been difficult for us but we’re making a complete search because that is the last place our suspect was spotted.”

The murder scene is on State Route 93 north of Pedro.

Lawson is alleged to have shot and killed three adults and an 8-year-old boy – all members of one family and all related to the suspect. The sheriff says when the boy’s father discovered the murder scene when he arrived home Wednesday evening.

Lawson allegedly attacked the father with a knife and then fled. It was the father who called for help.

Investigators initially believed there were three victims and that the 8-year-old was missing. After a more thorough search, they found the boy’s body had been hidden inside the house all along.

Sheriff Lawless says the motive for the murders is unknown. “What we have here is a horrible, horrible tragedy,” Lawless said. “We’re talking to a lot of family and friends and everyone is dumbfounded. Everyone always got along especially with the amount of time he (Lawson) spent there. So that’s something we hope to find out once we capture him.”

The Sheriff has not yet released the names of the victims.

The horrific crime and manhunt has Jennifer Sweeney and other neighbors on edge. “It’s terrifying,” Sweeney said. “I’ve searched everywhere here. We’ve got weapons here and I hope I don’t have to use them. I’m on edge. Everybody here is on edge.”

Searchers are using dogs, ATV’s and helicopters with infrared technology to methodically look through a wooded area.

Sheriff Lawless says they recovered what they believe is the murder weapon and they do not believe Lawson has a gun. Lawless believes searchers have time on their side. “We feel like he may jump up and move more and more.,” Lawless said. “He’s gotta be getting hungry and tired and that type of thing and being out in the environment this long – we’re pretty confident we’re going to get him and we’re not going to quit until we do.”

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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