Volunteers Search for Clues in Beason Massacre

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Search crews are looking for some sort of break in the Gees murder case.

    Search crews continue to pore over every agricultural inch of the downstate Beason looking for clues in the brutal, vicious slaying that rocked the town of 200 on Monday.

    Volunteers from neighboring counties joined in the search for evidence and walked the ditches and borders of farm fields near the Gee home, where five family members -- 46-year-old Raymond "Rick" Gee and 39-year-old Ruth Gee, Justina Constant, 16, Dillen Constant, 14; and Austin Gee, 11 -- were murdered. Police are looking for specific items, but declined to reveal what items were on their list.

    During a press conference Wednesday, Sheriff Steven Nichols told residents to be on the lookout for a suspicious gray-primered light pickup truck with chrome tail pipes that was reportedly spotted in the town prior to the murders.

    Meanwhile, residents of the rural hamlet are struggling to get back to regular life, but Logan County Board Chairman Terry Carlton, a Republican from Lincoln who grew up in a small town near Peoria, said tiny Beason would forever be a different place.

    "Sure, they'll get back to 'normal,' but normal will never be what normal was before this weekend. It will always be there," Carlton said Wednesday. "They'll always be a little wary. Now it's not going to be, 'It can't happen in Beason.'"

    Earlier Wednesday in Lincoln, Sheriff Steven Nichols said autopsies on five members of the family of Raymond "Rick" and Ruth Gee showed none of them had been shot.

    Nichols' comments raised more questions about the killings, particularly because he said a day earlier that deputies responded to the Gees' after a 911 call reporting possible shots fired.

    The head of the Logan County Emergency Management Agency, Dan Fulscher, said the 911 call was made by someone who entered the house and saw bloody bodies "and very quickly got out of there."

    Nichols would not say when authorities believe the couple and three of their children were killed, whether they have recovered any weapons or whether anything was taken from the house. He also has not said whether investigators have identified any suspects.

    He said more answers would be available during a Thursday press conference.

    The county coroner whose office conducted the autopsies would not discuss any preliminary findings, saying the sheriff asked him not to because the information might jeopardize the investigation.

    Area residents surmised that something was amiss in the house long before the 911 call that Nichols said came in around 4:30 p.m. Monday.

    Jodie Duncan, the town's postmaster, said she saw the children every morning at her office, where they came to pick up the bus, until Monday.

    "I asked one of the kids, 'Where are they? They said, 'They're not here and they always beat us here,'" she said Wednesday.

    Meanwhile, a 3-year-old girl who survived the attack and was identified by family members as the Gees' youngest daughter, remained hospitalized in stable condition. Nichols said a deputy was assigned to the hospital but that, contrary to published reports, no other family members had been placed in protective custody.

    Friends of the family in Beason, a town of a few hundred people about 140 miles southwest of Chicago, said the Gees locked their front door but only to keep their 3-year-old daughter from leaving. And though they often left the back door unlocked so the child could get in and out of the yard, the Gees had protective dog, the friends said.

    "It doesn't matter if the back door was open or not because their dog was very protective of their family," said Stormee Whitney, a 17-year-old friend of Justina Constant.

    That the sheriff and others were so tight-lipped about the slayings did not bother Whitney's mother, Marjorie Wright.

    "They're not telling us anything ... so they can make sure that they catch these people that (did) this," Wright said.