By the time a lone gunman was done, eight people in tiny, rural Tyrone, Missouri, were dead by his hand (including himself), another wounded, family members and friends left in shock, and an entire nation wondering what could motivate a man to commit such a series of acts. Authorities say that Joseph Jesse Aldridge, 36, shot and killed seven people, four of whom were his cousins, before turning the gun on himself.
The Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) Feb. 27 that Joseph Aldridge went on a killing rampage Thursday night in little Tyrone, Missouri, a place described as little more than a crossroads with a few houses and not so much as a stop sign. Police would later find another deceased body, that of Aldridge’s mother. It is now believed that the discovery of her dead body by Aldridge, known to the area as a somewhat reclusive man, prompted him, for reasons yet unknown, to go on a house-to-house killing spree.
One Tyrone resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Kansas City Star, ““He just lost it. They think when she died, he went berserk and took it out on everybody else.”
Another resident, Nora Shriver, told the Star the day after the shootings, “The town is devastated. Half of the town got killed last night.” She and her husband lost three relatives in the rampage.
According to authorities, Joseph Aldridge, visited four different homes Thursday night. All the victims, including the wounded individual, were adults. In fact, Texas County Sheriff James Sigman said they were first alerted to the incident when they received a phone call at the sheriff’s office at 10:15 p.m. Thursday night from a teenage girl calling from a neighbor’s house.
The girl told police she had ran from her house after hearing gunshots inside her home. The neighbor, who spoke without giving his name, told the Associated Press the girl wore only a nightgown and had ran barefoot across a snowy field to get to his house.
Her legs were cut up from the thickets that grew in the field. “She was crying so hard,” the neighbor recalled, “but I finally got out of her ‘My mom and dad have been shot.'”
The Missouri Highway Patrol has sent seven investigators to Tyrone to help with the processing of the crime scenes. Spokesman Sgt. Jeff Kinder described the situation to the New York Times as “a mess.” He went on: “It’s a pretty massive undertaking to process that many crime scenes and deal with that much carnage.”
As for a motive, investigators are still at a loss as to what may have triggered the rampage. However, the Times reported that neighbors noted that Joseph Aldridge had been recently turned down for a job at a cabinetmaking business, one owned by a couple of the victims.
Tyrone resident Bud Goodman described Tyrone, Missouri, as “a friendly country town.” He has lived there since 2011. He knew most of the shooting victims, but said he was not aware if any conflict existed among them.
“I don’t know what it could be,” he said. “I can’t understand why anybody would do what he did.”
Sheriff Sigman noted that not one of the doors had been forced open at any of the crime scenes. This suggested that either the gunman simply entered the house or was allowed in. “Start locking your doors,” he said. “The world’s changing.”