MADISON, Ark. — A man, woman and 12-year-old girl were found dead Monday in a house near Forrest City, Arkansas, the St. Francis County sheriff confirmed.
The victims were listed as Shalonda Barton, JaTerrance Wright and a child who was not named. The relationship between the victims has not been disclosed.
They were found shot at a house at 516 Gore St. in Madison, Ark. as deputies were performing a welfare check around 1 a.m. The mother of the woman killed had requested a welfare check be done on the house.
Sheriff Bobby May described the incident as a “crime of passion” and said all the victims were shot while in their beds. He also said a 4-year-old who was home at the time was reportedly taken to her grandmother’s house.
“We do have a report that there was a four-year-old at the home and she was taken to the grandmother’s house…the mother of one of the victims,” he said.
The county coroner said the motive is unknown. The bodies will be sent to the state medical examiner for autopsy.
Sherriff Bobby May said so far, no arrests have been made but they have spoken with the surviving 4-year-old and a person of interest who may have moved into the house recently.
“We do have a person of interest that we’re looking at very seriously, and we do have some good forensics that we’re looking at,” Sheriff May said. “We think that we will hopefully be making an arrest in this case very, very soon.”
A friend of the family said the 12-year-old attended Stewart Elementary School in Forrest City.
Tia Burton said her children rode the school bus with the girl.
“She was very nice,” Burton said. “She was bigger than all the other kids so she let the other kids get on the bus first every morning. And I see this little girl every morning with a smile on her face.”
The Forrest City School District provided the following statement:
“The Forrest City School District is saddened at learning of the tragic loss of a FCSD student and other family members overnight.
The district is providing administrative support and additional mental health professionals at our campuses to assist our counselors with providing additional mental health services to students and staff.”
We were also able to locate a relative of one of the victims who released a statement on behalf of the family, saying: “We the family of Shalonda Barton are totally devasted that her and her precious daughter were taken from us so senselessly. Shalonda was the most caring soul you could ever meet.”