Missouri authorities discovered seven victims of a mass murder in a small, rural area of the state. The suspect in the gunshot killings, which occurred Thursday night, is believed to have shot himself to death, leaving a total of eight dead and only 42 left in Tyrone, Missouri, to mourn the victims. Although a ninth person was also discovered deceased by investigators, police believe this victim’s death to be a result of natural causes.
Police have identified the shooter as Joseph Aldridge, 36. His limp body was discovered lying over the steering wheel of his truck, which was parked in the middle of a Missouri highway with the engine still running. His weapon is said to have been a .45-caliber pistol, for which he had plenty of ammunition. The truck was parked near the home of a man with whom Aldridge had once been friends.
Sheriff’s deputies in rural Texas County, Missouri, discovered the murders after a 911 call was placed at 10:15 p.m. The young female told the operator that she had run from her home after hearing gunshots. When the deputies arrived at the scene, they discovered two deceased people inside the residence.
As authorities continued to investigate, news of the murders began to spread throughout the Missouri community. Concerned family members checking on their loved ones discovered some of the victims and notified police, who were checking door-to-door for victims.
The bodies were discovered in four homes located within three miles of each other in the unincorporated Missouri community of Tyrone, which is located approximately 95 miles to the east of Springfield, Missouri. One victim was still alive and was transported to the hospital. She was able to identify Aldridge as the person who shot her.
Four of the victims of the mass murder in Tyrone, Missouri, have been identified. All four are believed to be cousins of Aldridge. They are Garold Aldridge and his wife Julie Aldridge, 52 and 47, respectively; and Harold Aldridge and his wife, Janell Aldridge, 50 and 48, respectively. Garold Aldridge and Harold Aldridge were brothers.
The remaining three victims are not being identified until their next of kin have been notified, and their relationship to the shooter has not been released. Neighbors told the New York Times that they were a married couple and the man’s father. The woman who survived, according to the neighbors, was the man’s mother. They suspect that Joseph Aldridge targeted them because they had turned him down for a job at their cabinet shop, but Missouri authorities say no definitive motive has been discovered.
An elderly woman who is believed to have died naturally was found on the couch in a fifth home by police who were searching for the murderer. She has been identified as Joseph Aldridge’s mother, Alice, who was 74. Coroner Tom Whittaker of Texas County, Missouri, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Alice Aldridge had been deceased for at least one day.
In light of no outward signs of trauma to Mrs. Aldrich’s body, Sgt. Jeff Kinder of the Missouri Highway Patrol said police are not considering her to be a victim at this point. Whittaker told both KMOX and the Post-Dispatch that police believe the killings may have been triggered when Joseph Aldridge discovered the dead body of his mother.
Kinder said that the investigation of the door-to-door killing spree is one of the worst he has done. “In our job, we see a lot of bad stuff, and this is bad,” he said. Tyrone, Missouri, had approximately 50 residents prior to Joseph Aldridge’s killing spree, which leaves only 42 to mourn the dead.
By Jennifer Pfalz
New York Times