Explosions kill four in Laurel, Nebraska

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Laurel's Second Street, east of Elm Street, on February 22, 2010.
Image: User:Ammodramus.

Four were killed before dawn last Thursday in two separate residential fires and explosions in the small town of Laurel, Nebraska, United States, in what SWAT are calling "multiple crime scenes".

Authorities responding to the first explosion at 209 Elm Street around 3 AM found a body, identified Friday as Michele Ebeling, 53, dead on the scene with gunshot wounds. Concurrently, emergency services received a call about another house fire some three blocks away at 503 Elm Street, where residents Gene, Janet and Dana Twiford (aged 86, 85 and 55, respectively), had also died.

Police suspected foul play when the investigation began Friday, concluding the suspect, Jason Jones, 42, lived across the street from one of the houses. A police team infiltrated the suspect's residence at approximately 2:30 AM, capturing Jones "on probable cause for homicide". Jones was airlifted to a hospital to treat "serious burns" on his body, and is understood to be severely affected.

Speaking to reporters last Thursday afternoon, State Patrol Superintendent Colonel John Bolduc said that there is no longer any threat to the community, and acknowledged citizens of the Cedar County town of under 1,000 residents may feel a "betrayal of trust" as "a community member here is alleged to have committed these crimes." He praised "heroic" efforts by fire responders and indicated further suspects include two men in a silver sedan videoed to have left Laurel westbound early Thursday.