Deputies responding to a call about a shooting in Alabama found seven people dead inside a home that had been set afire early Friday, authorities said.
Morgan County deputies put out the fire before firefighters arrived and found three women and four men shot dead inside, news outlets reported.
Mike Swafford, a spokesman with the Morgan County Sheriff's Office, said the blaze was near the bodies and may have been set in an attempt to destroy evidence.
“It is a horrific scene and to be able to process it will take some time,” Swafford said.
Authorities Friday identified six of the victims: Tammy England Muzzey, 45, of Valhermoso Springs; Emily Brooke Payne, 21, of Valhermoso Springs; Roger Lee Jones Jr., 19, of Decatur; Jeramy Wade Roberts, 31, of Athens and William Zane Hodgin, 18, of Sommerville, WHNT-TV reported. A 17-year-old female remains unidentified.
“In my 37 years as a paramedic, deputy coroner and coroner, this is the most major crime scene in Morgan County,” Coroner Jeff Chunn said.
Sheriff’s deputies are familiar with the residence, having answered several calls there in the past few years for problems including drugs, robbery, trespassing and disturbances, he said. The killings might have been related to drugs, he told The Decatur Daily.
“Our theory right now is whoever did this, came in here for a reason, did it and left,” he said. Authorities are looking into the possibility of the killings being drug-related, Swafford said.
A dog also was found dead in the home, a brick, ranch-style structure.
No suspects are in custody but deputies don’t believe there is a further threat in the area.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office and FBI Violent Crimes Task Force are assisting in the investigation.