IRONTON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man who survived a knife attack after his wife, son and in-laws were fatally shot in southern Ohio said he rushed home from work after hearing screams and a gunshot during a phone call with his mother-in-law.
Todd Holston, 29, described his experiences Saturday in an interview with The Columbus Dispatch. Holston said Arron Lawson attacked him with a pocket knife Wednesday inside his family’s Lawrence County trailer home after killing Holston’s wife, 28-year-old Stacey Jackson, 7-year-old son, Devin Holston, and in-laws, 50-year-old Donald McGuire and 43-year-old Tammie McGuire, with a shotgun painted in camouflage.
Authorities found Devin’s body hidden inside the trailer Thursday morning after an alert was issued the night before that he was missing.
Lawson, 23, was arrested Friday along a country road after a manhunt of more than 24 hours. He has been charged in Lawrence County on one count of aggravated murder and three counts of murder and was ordered held without bond during a hearing Saturday morning in Ironton Municipal Court. An attorney listed in court records didn’t return messages seeking comment Saturday.
Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson told The Associated Press on Saturday that evidence in the case will be presented to a grand jury Wednesday. He said he plans to seek the death penalty. Anderson wouldn’t discuss details of the case or a possible motive for the slayings.
“This was a horrific crime, and it has affected the whole community,” Anderson said.
Holston told the Dispatch that he called his in-laws, who lived nearby, on Wednesday and asked them to check on his family after repeatedly trying to reach his wife that day. They asked if they could break into the home, which is in an unincorporated area called Pedro in Lawrence County about 110 miles (177 kilometers) south of Columbus, because the door was locked. Holston said he then heard Tammie McGuire scream, “Oh, my God,” and a gunshot before the call broke off.
He said that after hurrying home, Lawson rapidly stabbed him in the neck, face and arms when he walked inside. He described Lawson as appearing to be “possessed.”
Holston, a much larger man, said he finally subdued Lawson and “beat the living crap out of him.” Holston said he pushed Lawson to the ground and locked the trailer door. It was at that point he discovered that his wife and the McGuires were dead. His 2-year-old son, Braxton, was lying on a bed unharmed.
He said he picked up the toddler and drove away to get help. Holston was flown to a hospital in Huntington, West Virginia, where he was treated for stab wounds and eventually released. The Dispatch interview was conducted at the home of Holston’s parents.
Holston said he’s known Lawson for 10 years and that he was at his family’s home nearly every day, cared for Devin and Braxton and shared meals with the family.
“I don’t know why he did what he did,” Holston said.
Holston said — and Anderson confirmed — that Lawson, posing as Holton, called Devin’s elementary school at some point Wednesday and asked that he be released early because a family member was sick. It’s unclear who brought him home.
Anderson, the prosecutor, said the killings took place over a number of hours.
Holston told the Dispatch that he wonders why Braxton was allowed to live.
“I figured he hadn’t done any of this to Braxton because Devin was older and could tell the cops what happened,” Holston said. “I really don’t know.