A man was arrested early Friday morning after four people were found dead in two burning homes, officials said.
Authorities in Laurel, Nebraska, discovered the first body just after 3 a.m. Thursday after receiving a report of an explosion. Upon arriving at the scene, police found the home on fire, and a body was discovered inside.
A second house fire, just blocks away from the first, was then reported. Three more people were found dead inside that house.
All four bodies were found with suspected gunshot wounds, police said.
The suspect, 42-year-old Jason A. Jones, was arrested early Friday on probable homicide charges. He was found with severe burns, and is now hospitalized in "serious condition," Nebraska State Patrol Colonel John A. Bolduc said in a news conference.
The victims were identified as Gene Twiford, 86, Janet Twiford, 85, and Dana Twiford, 55, all three of whom lived together, and Michele Ebeling, 53, who lived in the other house.
"I want to acknowledge the indescribable grief that this community is experiencing right now," Bolduc said. "And that’s going to be compounded by the betrayal of trust that they’re going to feel because a community member here is alleged to have committed these crimes."
A motive for the suspected quadruple murders is not yet known. It is also not clear whether the suspect knew the victims, but police said Jones lived across the street from one of the two homes.
Bolduc thanked the firefighters who responded to the scene for their "heroic efforts" in extinguishing the house fires while safeguarding the evidence police needed for their investigation.
"Their efforts preserved the evidence that led us directly to the suspect," he said.