MOULTRIE -- The Colquitt County community was shocked to the core Monday to learn that five members of a family had been brutally slain in their rural home.

Law enforcement worked way into the night trying to piece together events that might explain the horror found in a brick home on Georgia Highway 37 East just outside of Moultrie.

Four children coming home from school Monday discovered their family dead.

The bodies of four adults -- two Hispanic women, a Hispanic man, a white woman, and a 3-year-old boy -- were discovered by the children. Some of the dead had been tied up and some were shot. Preliminary reports said a 12-year-old boy ran screaming out of the house that sits in the corner of Clarence Norman Road and Highway 37 (Adel Highway).

Some six hours later after nightfall, the bodies of the deceased were wheeled out on gurneys one by one in front of the small house. Beneath a weeping willow tree, a tricycle lay on its side.

Prior to press time, investigators were keeping details surrounding the quintuple homicide close to the vest. Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Ronnie Thompson declined to confirm identities of the victims, but the owner of the house, Ronnie Gaines of Quitman, said a white woman, Tina Resendez, rented it from him. Tina and her husband, Jaime, lived there with possibly two other adults and about six children, neighbors said. Thompson said the children were all related. One victim has yet to be identified, he said.

"This scene is worse than most that we work," the agent said.

Investigators are not ruling out anything at this time, he said. The killer or killers of the five should be considered still at large.

"We're not sure whether they're still in the area or not. They've possibly already fled the state. We don't know," Thompson said.

The GBI was called in by the Colquitt County Sheriff's Office, which responded to the E-911 call at about 2:45 p.m. An exact time of the slayings was not known, but Colquitt County Chief Investigator Hal Suber said it took place sometime after the children had left for school that morning.

Officers entered the residence and found the four bodies. When they learned of the 3-year-old, identified by GBI Agent Ed Ricks as Juan Carlos Resendez, investigators first suspected he was missing but later, while processing the scene, found his lifeless body hidden in a bedroom.

Neighbors said they didn't hear any shots or see any disturbance. Neighbors Jenny Young and Jean Oliver said that the house was often host to cookouts. Sunday night, there were more people congregated there than usual, they said.

The children, some brothers and sisters and between the ages of 5 and 9, were taken by Department of Family and Children's Services, Suber said, for interviews at the child advocacy center.

A school counselor on the scene said one of the boy's mother died somewhat mysteriously last year. No details on that matter were confirmed prior to press time.

The GBI won't release how all five were killed until the autopsies are completed at the GBI regional crime lab in Moultrie.

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