Multiple-murder suspect Stone found dead of self-inflicted wounds in Montco woods

    Listen
     Police cordon off a wooded area during the search for Bradley William Stone, Tuesday in Pennsburg. Schools closed and hospitals and other public places tightened security Tuesday as police in suburban Philadelphia hunted for the Marine veteran suspected of killing his ex-wife and five of her relatives. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

    Police cordon off a wooded area during the search for Bradley William Stone, Tuesday in Pennsburg. Schools closed and hospitals and other public places tightened security Tuesday as police in suburban Philadelphia hunted for the Marine veteran suspected of killing his ex-wife and five of her relatives. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

    A prosecutor has confirmed that a body found in woods in suburban Philadelphia is that of an ex-Marine suspected of killing his ex-wife and five of her relatives.

    Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said  police found 35-year-old Bradley William Stone’s body Tuesday near his Pennsburg home.

    “We have not received official confirmation from the coroner as to the cause and manner of death, but from what we have found at the scene, we believe he died of self-inflicted cutting wounds in the center part of his body,” Vetri Ferman said late Tuesday afternoon.

    Authorities have not determined a motive for the deadly rampage, but Ferman said Stone and his ex-wife have been in an ongoing dispute over custody of their two children.

    Stone left the children, unharmed, with a neighbor after killing Nicole Hill Stone. Before arriving at his wife’s Souderton home early Monday morning, police said, he killed her mother and grandmother, as well as her sister, brother-in-law and niece, authorities said.  A seventh family member is still undergoing treatment after having lost three fingers while apparently fighting away his attacker.

    The discovery of Stone’s body in the woods followed hours of searching the area around Pennsburg. Some classes were canceled Tuesday, and some residents were warned to lock their doors as SWAT teams conducted the manhunt.

    It was the second major manhunt to transfix Pennsylvania in recent months. Eric Frein spent 48 days at large in the Poconos after the September ambush slaying of a state trooper.

    Stone’s neighbors say they’re relieved he can’t harm anyone else.

    With help from state and federal officials, Vetri Ferman was adamant early Tuesday that the manhunt would end successfully. Authorities had been searching the area surrounding Harleysville, Lansdale and Souderton, where the killings occurred.

    A tip that Stone might have been the man who attempted to steal keys at knifepoint from a Doylestown man walking his dog Monday night turned out to be “not valid,” Vetri Ferman said.

    Some speculate Stone’s training as a Marine helped him elude capture for more than 24 hours.

    John Orzinkowsky of Red Hill, in the vicinity of the murder sites, said a man with survival training can find many places to hide in the rural parts of Montgomery County.

    “It’s too easy out here to get away,” Orzinkowsky said. “There’s too many places to go. If you want to look at it strictly from a survival aspect, you can stay out here for months.”

    Resident John Kreuz, a veteran himself, said he doesn’t necessarily think Stone’s time overseas pushed him over the edge.

    “He was in Iraq … but on the other side of the coin, he was only there for a short period of time,” Kreuz said. “I don’t think we can blame everything on Iraq or Afghanistan. Whatever he was in.”

    Stone had at least three arrests for drunken driving, and court records indicate he was ordered to participate in Veterans Court, a program aimed at helping veterans avoid prison while pairing them with people who understand the difficulties of returning to civilian life after military service.

     

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.