A 27-year-old Mississippi man murdered five people, including a pregnant woman, at a home in rural Alabama early on Saturday before kidnapping his estranged girlfriend and a 3-month-old, authorities said on Sunday.
Derrick Dearman is facing six counts of capital murder – including the unborn child – after breaking into the house in Citronelle, Alabama, where his girlfriend was staying in an effort to leave their “abusive relationship,” according to the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
The victims were identified on Sunday as Shannon Melissa Randall, 35; Joseph Adam Turner, 26; Robert Lee Brown, 26; Justin Kaleb Reed, 23; and Chelsea Marie Reed, 22. Chelsea Reed was five months’ pregnant, authorities said.
The girlfriend, identified by police as Laneta Lester, 24, had come to the home on Friday to stay with her sister, police said. It was not immediately clear which victim was her sister.
Police said a resident of the home called 911 between midnight and 1 a.m. on Saturday to report that Dearman was trespassing on the property. Dearman fled before officers arrived and could not be found.
Later that night, police said, Dearman returned to the house and attacked the occupants while they were sleeping, using multiple weapons, including guns.
He kidnapped Lester and a 3-month-old child who belonged to one of the victims from the home and drove them to his father’s home in Mississippi, police said. After arriving at the home, Dearman released Lester and the infant, and he and his father went to a local sheriff’s office to turn him in.
Lester, meanwhile, returned to Citronelle, a community of some 3,900 people, 30 miles (48 km) north-northwest of Mobile, and told police there what had happened.
Paul Burch, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said Dearman “is cooperating” with investigators.
Dearman remains in custody in Mississippi and will likely be extradited to Alabama this week, Burch said.