Joseph Nickell allegedly shot and killed four people before turning the gun on himself in a horrific quadruple murder suicide in Kentucky on Saturday afternoon
A man shot and killed four people, including his mother and father, before turning the gun on himself and in a horrific quadruple murder suicide in Kentucky.
The murdering spree started Saturday just before 3.30pm when police were alerted to a shooting in Paintsville.
Officers arrived at a home and found a man and woman shot dead in the kitchen area of the house. A witness said the suspect, identified as Joseph Nickell, fled in a black Toyota Camry.
The car was then tracked to an apartment complex roughly seven miles away where three people were found shot dead - two women and Nickell.
Police said the 44-year-old, who worked as a hairdresser, shot the women and then turned the gun on himself.
The two other victims were identified as Nickell's girlfriend Lindsay Vanhoose and her mother, Patricia Vanhoose, according to WMYT. A friend of the family Michelle Burke Meyerhoff said Nickell's son, Cole, was present for the shootings but was spared.
Police found a man and a woman shot dead in the kitchen area of the house, and a witness said the suspect, identified as Joseph Nickell, fled in a black Toyota Camry. Nickell is pictured left, and right is a photo he posted to his Facebook, referring to the guns as 'cool toys' and showing his interest in firearms
It is believed two of the victims were Nickell's parents, Wayne and Arlene Nickell, pictured
The two other victims were identified as Nickell's girlfriend Lindsay Vanhoose (pictured) and her mother, Patricia Vanhoose, according to WMYT
'Sheriff Price led a search of the apartment complex,' the Johnson County Sheriff's Department.
'An apartment was located that had the bodies of two additional victims and the perpetrator, Joseph Nickell. All three were deceased.'
The identities of the victims have not officially been released, giving police time to notify all family members. Price urged people to give the grieving family their space.
No other information about the attacks has been released, including a potential motive. The incident is being investigated as a murder-suicide.
After the incident family members took to Facebook to share their grief about the incident.
Melissa Nickell Reynolds, who appears to be Joseph's cousin, wrote that her 'Uncle Wayne and Aunt Arlene,' are now 'chatting up a storm this morning in Heaven!'
'I love my little Kentucky families and my heart Is Broken This Morning at the loss Of 4 Innocent lives,' she wrote.
'This week will be hard so please keep my family in yours prayers.'
Another family member, Steve Nickell, wrote 'My family has suffered a tremendous loss. With sadness, I regret to say my brother and his wife were both killed along with other innocent lives. Prayers for the families involved would be appreciated. Our faith will get us through. Thank you.'
The Camry was then tracked to an apartment complex where three people were shot dead - two women and Nickell. Pictured is the outside of the apartment complex
The identities of the victims are being withheld until their family members can be notified, and Price urged people to give them their space. Nickell is pictured left with his mother Arlene, and right with his sister, Becki, who died in 2017, and his son Cole
Sheriff Price said in a statement that it was 'an extremely challenging evening,'
'This has been a horrific murder spree,' he said.
'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.'
'This has been a horrific murder spree,' Johnson County Sheriff Dwayne Price (pictured) said in a statement
He also wrote on his Facebook page that the scene was 'heart wrenching,' and said it was 'a multiple murder of family.'
'No matter how many deaths you have seen or how many scenes you have been on, it never gets easier.'
Nickell, who is a self-identified conservative christian, lost his sister in 2017 to addiction. He has been arrested several times in the past and charged with public intoxication, domestic violence and assault, and fleeing or evading police, official arrest records show.
Michelle Burke Meyerhoff, who said Arlene Nickell was her counselor for the better part of seven years, described the woman as 'her rock.'
'What devastates me to the core, is I can visually see and hear her trying to talk her son down before he fatally shot and killed both Arlene and Wayne, his mom and down,' Michelle wrote in a touching Facebook tribute.
She also asked people not to jump to conclusions or judge too harshly, noting that he'd just lost his sister and 'you have no idea what he was going thru (sic).'
Meyerhoff added that Joseph's son, also named Joseph Nickell but called Cole, was spared in the incident.
'He survived this massacre, his life was spared,' she wrote.
'Also, please prayer for the girlfriend and her mother,' Meyerhoff wrote about Lindsay and Patricia Vanhoose, his other victims.
'I read that her daughter is at a cheer competition in Florida.'
One of Nickell's former coworkers, Jalisa Auxier Bentley, wrote that she can't 'wrap her head around' what happened.
'He was always good to me,' she wrote on Facebook alongside a photo of herself, Nickell, two coworkers and a customer. 'I don't know how it went from that to this and I don't understand cause that's not who I knew rip joe u (sic) will be missed.'
Michelle Burke Meyerhoff wrote: 'What devastates me to the core, is I can visually see and hear her trying to talk her son down before he fatally shot and killed both Arlene and Wayne, his mom and down'
Michelle Burke Meyerhoff asked people in a Facebook post to pray for the victims and their families and not to jump to conclusions or judge too harshly, noting that he'd just lost his sister and 'you have no idea what he was going thru (sic)'
One of Nickell's former coworkers, Jalisa Auxier Bentley (pictured second from the left), wrote that she can't 'wrap her head around' what happened