Manchester, Illinois slayings: Investigators determine motive

2:42 PM, May 3, 2013   |    comments
Rick O'Dell Smith
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MANCHESTER, Ill. (KSDK) - The Illinois State Police released its investigative findings into last week's mass shooting in Manchester, Illinois, in which a man shot six people, killing five of them.

Twenty-nine-year-old James Roy Ralston and 23-year-old Brittney Luark, their children - 5-year-old Nolan Ralston and 1-year-old Brantley Ralston - and Luark's grandmother, 66-year-old Jo Ann Sinclair, were killed the morning of April 24 at their home on East Street. Six-year-old Kassidy Ralston was also shot, but police said Smith took her from the home and handed her over to a neighbor. She was rushed to an area hospital and survived the shootings.

Brittney Luark was pregnant at the time of the shootings.

The suspected gunman, identified as 43-year-old Rick O'Dell Smith, was shot by police during a gun battle shortly before 7:30 a.m. He was taken to an area hospital and pronounced dead at 10:10 a.m.

ISP investigators confirmed Smith planned the attack and was seeking to resolve a domestic dispute between himself and the Sinclairs regarding the custody of his 3-year-old daughter. Smith believed relatives of the mother of his daughter were interfering in their custody dispute. The Morgan County Sheriff's Department confirmed for the ISP that on March 27, the department helped facilitate a custody exchange between Smith and the mother, identified as Rita Luark.

Manchester, Illinois is located about 85 miles north of St. Louis.


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