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Man most likely burned bodies of 4 missing family members, Florida detectives say

By Allen Cone
County investigators believe they have found the remains of a missing family. Photo courtesy Pasco Couny Sheriff's Office/Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pascosheriff/
1 of 2 | County investigators believe they have found the remains of a missing family. Photo courtesy Pasco Couny Sheriff's Office/Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pascosheriff/

June 17 (UPI) -- A man has been arrested after remains were found burned in a fire pit outside his home, the Pasco Sheriff's Office in Florida said.

On Saturday, the office announced that Rory Atwood, 25, of Hudson, was arrested on one count of first-degree murder after remains were found in Pasco County, which is north of Tampa. The remains have not been positively identified, according to a post by the agency on Facebook.

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Authorities had been searching for Phillip Zilliot II, 25; Rain Mancini 26; and their two children, 5-year-old Phillip Zilliot III and 6-year-old Karma Zilliot. The family members are believed to be Atwood's previous roommates.

"We believe it may be this family, but at the same time, I can't give a definitive until ... the [medical examiner] gives us final confirmation that it is," Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said Saturday.

Details were released Monday in an affidavit.

Deputies first began looking for the family after a request for a welfare check on Thursday.

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The woman told deputies Atwood contacted her brother on a video call to help him burn some trash. The affidavit said the caller's brother noticed blood and the bodies of adults and children through the video call.

Atwood told authorities deputies he last saw the Zilliot family walking away from his property on Thursday night.

Deputies saw a fire pit in the backyard that was "actively smoldering and smoking."

Then on Friday, the sheriff's office was contacted by a man who said Atwood admitted to killing the family members.

Deputies again spoke with Atwood, who told them the family members had taken their belongings out of the home two weeks earlier after Atwood kicked them out for not paying their rent.

According to the suspect, Mancin said she was going to stay at a women's shelter with her children while their father was going to stay in a tent at a nearby park, according to the arrest report.

On Saturday, Atwood was interviewed again. Detectives said he eventually admitted that the bodies of the entire Zilliot family were burned in the fire pit. Atwood said he was attacked by a knife-wielding Phillip Zilliot II while Mancini threatened Atwood's daughter with a knife, according to the arrest report.

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