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5 family members slain in Ill.

Three children, couple are “brutal homicide” victims, says sheriff. Girl, 3, survives.

BEASON, Ill. — A couple and three of their children were found brutally slain inside their home in this tiny central Illinois farming community, and authorities warned residents Tuesday to lock their doors at night while investigators try to identify possible suspects.

Authorities discovered the bodies Monday afternoon after responding to a 911 call about possible shots fired at the address, Logan County Sheriff Steven Nichols said at a news conference.

A 3-year-old girl survived the attack and was taken to a hospital in Peoria, he said. The girl’s grandmother identified her as the couple’s daughter, Tabitha Gee.

Nichols declined to say why his office didn’t release information about the slayings until Tuesday morning. He said detectives were trying to identify possible suspects, and that those responsible for the killings should be considered “armed and dangerous.”

Nichols warned area residents to lock their doors at night as a precaution.

The slayings, which Nichols described as a “brutal homicide against an entire family,” occurred at the family’s ranch-style home in Beason, a farming community of a few hundred residents about 140 miles southwest of Chicago.

Nichols declined to provide details about the crime scene or the suspected cause of death, but he said investigators would begin doing autopsies on Tuesday.

Nichols identified the victims and gave their approximate ages: Raymond “Rick” Gee, 46, Ruth Gee, 39, Justina Constant, 16, Dillen Constant, 14, and Austin Gee, 11.

He did not immediately provide details about the girl who survived.

The family was described as quiet and well-liked by townspeople and relatives.

The couple’s children attended church, and waited each morning at the town’s post office for the school bus.

In Beason, residents gathered on porches to talk about the killings, some obviously worried about what had happened and the fact that as of late in the day authorities had not made any arrests.

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