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Arrest made in Laurel homicide investigation

Area residents can rest easy, now that suspect is in custody

LAUREL - The Nebraska State Patrol arrested a suspect Friday morning in connection with four homicides that occurred in Laurel Thursday. 

More information is expected later this morning. 

Gene and Jan Twiford, and their adult daughter, Dana, perished  at their 503 Elm St. home and Michelle Shankles-Ebling was found dead in at 209 Elm St.

Investigators believe fires at both homes were intentionally set with accelerants. 

“We have two fires with deceased people three blocks apart,” said Col. John Bolduc of the Nebraska State Patrol Thursday afternoon. “It would be a stretch to say there’s no connection but it’s very early in the investigation.”

The only suspect information released Thursday afternoon was that a black male was seen leaving town that morning in a silver sedan. He may have picked up another individual before leaving westbound on Highway 20. 

A press conference has been set for later Friday morning. 

Thursday’s events started when first responders were called to 209 Elm St. for the report of an explosion at 3 a.m. When they arrived, they found Shankles-Ebling inside the house deceased. 

While still on the scene, the call came in for the fire at 503 Elm St. First responders found the Twiford family deceased inside that home. 

Investigators were still processing evidence late Thursday afternoon, Bolduc said.