FLAT GAP, Ky. (EKB News/LEX 18) — The Johnson County Coroner has identified the four victims killed in apparent murder-suicide Saturday.
Coroner J.R. Frisby reports James Wayne Nickell, who went by Wayne, 75, and Arlene Nickell, 70, were two of the victims killed. Reportedly they are the suspected shooter's parents.
The other victims have been identified as Lindsay Vanhoose, 41, and Patricia Vanhoose, 57. The coroner says Lindsay was the suspected shooter's ex-girlfriend, and Patricia is Lindsay's mother.
Reportedly all died of a single gunshot wound.
Joseph Nickell, 45, had previously been identified as the suspected shooter who investigators believe took his own life after the shooting rampage.
The incident happened around 4 p.m. Saturday when police received a 911 call.
Police responding to McKenzie Branch Road off Kentucky Highway 172 near the Flat Gap area found a man and a woman shot to death.
According a statement, police discovered that two people had been shot and were dead in the kitchen area of the residence, and the suspect in the shooting had fled the scene in a black Toyota Camry. Johnson County deputies, Kentucky State Police and Paintsville Police began searching for the vehicle, the statement said, and located it on Mill Street in Paintsville.
The Paintsville apartment is about seven miles from the first crime scene.
Police say they found three people dead in the apartment: two women and the male suspect.
Police are calling it a "horrific" murder spree. Four people were killed before the suspect took is own life.
Authorities are investigating a motive for the shooting.
From the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office:
“At 1533 on Saturday, February 10, 2018, Paintsville 911 received a call concerning a shooting at McKenzie Branch. Upon receiving the call, 911 dispatch contacted Sheriff Price. Sheriff Price responded to the call. Upon arrival at the residence in McKenzie Branch, Sheriff Price met with Deputies Fairchild and Mullins. It was discovered that two people had been shot and were deceased in the kitchen. Sheriff Price then notified KSP and requested a detective on scene. The suspect was not there, and a search needed to be coordinated. According to a witness the perpetrator left the scene in a black Toyota Camry. Sheriff Price put a BOLO out on the Camry. Sheriff Price, Johnson County Deputies along with Paintsville PD and the Kentucky State Police began a coordinated search of possible locations. Other counties were also advised to be on alert. The suspect was to be considered armed and dangerous. While canvassing the area, 911 received a tip that the subject’s vehicle was on Mill Street in Paintsville. All agencies responded and located the vehicle. Sheriff Price led a search of the apartment complex. An apartment was located that had the bodies of two additional victims and the perpetrator, Joseph Nickell. All three were deceased. Sheriff Price stated, “This has been a horrific murder spree. The lives of four innocent victims were taken. The perpetrator then took his own life. There are no words to describe the heartbreak in seeing four lives taken due to the actions of one man. I have worked in law enforcement for 34 years. This is one of the most disturbing acts of violence I have ever seen.” Sheriff Price further stated “We will continue to work this case in conjunction with the Kentucky State Police. I ask for prayers for the families.” Sheriff Price concluded by saying, “In respect, for the victims, we are not releasing any names pending notification of families.””