Landlord Charged With Murder of Missing Family After Human Remains Found in His Fire Pit

 Landlord Charged With Murder of Missing Family After Human Remains Found in His Fire Pit

( Image: Pasco County Sheriff’s Office)

Charred human remains believed to belong to a young family of four have been discovered in a backyard fire pit in Pasco County, Florida. The family, consisting of Rain Mancini, 26, Phillip Zilliot II, 25, and their children Karma, 6, and Phillip III, 5, were reported missing on June 12.

Rory Atwood, 25, has been charged with one count of first-degree murder following the grisly discovery at his property. The family was last seen in the Nottingham Trail area of Hudson on June 12 around 12:30 a.m. On June 14, police conducted a welfare check after a woman reported that her brother had seen bodies during a FaceTime call with Atwood. Atwood had reportedly called the brother asking for help to burn what he claimed was rubbish.

However, during the call, the man saw “adult and child bodies.” When police initially visited Atwood’s home, he allowed them to search the property, but they did not find anything suspicious. The following day, police received a call from a man claiming Atwood had “admitted to killing his roommates and their children,” according to an affidavit. It was only during a second search with cadaver dogs that officers discovered the remains.

A cadaver dog found what appeared to be “small skeletal remains” with soft tissue in a fire pit. The back patio was also drenched in a strong chlorine odor. Police also reportedly found human bone fragments and vertebrae. Sheriff Chris Nocco of Pasco County stated on Saturday: “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.”

According to a criminal complaint seen by USA TODAY, Atwood confessed to police that he had an altercation with the parents over a firearm prior to their deaths. He allegedly admitted to using “adrenaline” to drag their bodies to the fire pit. In a press conference, Sheriff Nocco revealed: “Around 4:30 in the afternoon (Friday), our deputies observed Rory Atwood, we saw him out there, and he gives us permission to go back onto the property, which we started doing a more extensive search.

We have human remains dogs, bloodhounds, aviation, and deputies; because of the search, we’re able to find human remains. This, along with several admissions, is what led to Rory Atwood being charged with first-degree homicide.” Atwood informed officers that he had evicted the family on June 1 due to non-payment of rent, and they had unexpectedly returned on June 12.

Atwood, who was renting his property to the family, claimed that the father entered his bedroom with a knife, leading to a struggle involving all three adults over a knife and a gun. During the fight, he said the parents were shot multiple times. Investigators are still working to identify the bodies found at the scene, but have charged Atwood in their deaths based on his testimony, Nocco said. Atwood pleaded not guilty on Monday and is being held without bond, court records show.

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