4 dead at two neighboring homes in northeast Nebraska town

Nebraska State Patrol asks public for help with investigation, noting suspect may have burns
New details are just out about the deaths of four people in northeastern Nebraska.
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 4:16 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2022 at 9:38 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAUREL, Neb. (WOWT) - Authorities said Thursday that investigators are looking into a series of events in a small town in northeast Nebraska that left four people dead at two homes located about three blocks apart.

In a news conference at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nebraska State Patrol Col. John Bolduc said that the Laurel Police Department, the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office, and NSP responded to the scene of an explosion and resulting fire reported just after 3 a.m. at a residence in Laurel, located about 15 miles north of Wayne.

First responders said they found one person dead inside. While still investigating that scene, the sheriff’s office received a report of another fire at a residence about three blocks away. Three people were found dead in that home, Bolduc said.

In a news release late Thursday, the Nebraska State Patrol said gunfire happened at both homes and that they believed the fires at both homes started around the same time.

Investigators believe the suspect left Laurel later than they previously thought after the incidents.

Authorities were waiting on coroner’s results to determine the nature of the incidents before officially classifying the investigation as homicides, saying that they were still in the process of debriefing first-responders.

“We will be on this case until it’s solved,” he said, noting that investigators could be at the scene through the night.

CAN YOU HELP?

Authorities are looking for the public’s help in finding a suspect, identifying a silver sedan driving westbound on Highway 20 between midnight and 4 a.m. as a vehicle of interest.

NSP Col. John Bolduc said the driver may have picked up a passenger on their way out of town, and that investigators think the person who set the fires may have been burned.

“The most important partner right now remains the public,” Bolduc said, noting that authorities are looking, in particular, for video that may aid in the investigation.

Anyone with information about these crimes is asked to contact the State Patrol at 402-479-4921.

Emergency crews worked to extinguish the fire while working to preserve evidence, Bolduc said, sharing that investigators were still processing the second scene at the time of the news conference.

While they hadn’t definitively connected the two scenes, authorities noted the similarities between — and the close proximity of — the two incidents in a close-knit community.

“Fire investigators believe accelerants may have been used in both of these fires,” Bolduc said.

An official at Laurel City Hall told 6 News’ sister station KTIV that law enforcement suggested residents go on lockdown but gave no reason. Cedar County Sheriff Larry Koranda said Thursday afternoon that authorities were leaving it up to individual entities that did go into lockdown to determine when they felt like they wanted to reopen.

“There’s a lot of information that we may not be able to share,” authorities said Thursday afternoon, noting that the investigation is still in the early stages.

Asked whether the public was in danger while authorities searched for a suspect, both Bolduc and Koranda stressed that anyone who notices anything suspicious in the area or sees something that may be related to the incident in Laurel should call the State Patrol to report it.

Koranda said that while there was no definitive connection between the two homes, Laurel is a small and “very safe” town of 1,000 people, so “everybody knows everybody” and makes an impact on the entire community, including the first-responders working at the scene.

In wrapping up the afternoon news conference, Bolduc said he anticipated authorities would have another briefing on the investigation on Friday.

Watch Thursday’s news conference

LIVE: NSP investigating deaths in Laurel, Neb.

The Nebraska State Patrol is giving an update on the investigation involving multiple fatalities in a northeast Nebraska community. Details developing on WOWT.com.

Posted by 6 News WOWT on Thursday, August 4, 2022

Copyright 2022 WOWT. All rights reserved.