Police issued a warning today in a small central Illinois town that whoever slaughtered a family of five was on the loose and extremely dangerous.
"I think people do need to lock their doors and take precautions," Logan County Sheriff Steve Nichols said today at a news conference according to the Bloomington Pantagraph. "Until we find this person, we consider them armed and dangerous."
Found dead in the family massacre were Raymond and Ruth Gee, approximately 46 and 39 years old, and their three children ages 11 to 16. Their youngest, 3-year-old Tabitha, survived the attack in the family's Beason, Ill., home and was taken to a hospital.
Police have called the Gee family murders a "brutal homicide."
Beason Postmaster Jodie Duncan, who knew the older children well, said no one in this tiny town of 300 knows what to think at this point.
"They're on edge," she said of the town's residents. "I think until the community gets more information as to what's going on, they're on edge."
Rural mail carrier Harry David Edwards, who has delivered mail to the town's residents for more than 30 years, told ABCNews.com that he had heard it was one of the children's grandfathers who found the bodies Monday afternoon after not being able to reach the family.
"To take out kids and the whole family like that," he said, "I don't know."
Police said the bodies were found around 4:30 p.m. Monday after receiving a 911 call about a possible shooting at their 2150th Avenue home.
The children were identified as Justina Constant, 16, Dillon Constant, 14 and Austin Gee, 11.
"They were all good kids," Edwards said.
Duncan said she got to know the children, and others in the town, as they congregated at the post office where the bus would transport them back and forth to schools in Lincoln, Ill.
Justina had a "heart of gold," Duncan said, calling the teen "the sweestest girl you'd ever want to meet."
Duncan said she'd recently begun dating a local boy about a month ago -- her first boyfriend -- and was "really, really excited" about the relationship and the token ring the boy had given her to show his affection.
Dillon, Duncan said, "was my buddy."
An enthusiastic wrestler who hoped to make it to the state championship once he got into high school, Dillon made a recent pact with Duncan to celebrate his eighth-grade graduation, she said.
She remembered Austin as a good little boy who preferred to do his homework last-minute at the post office in the mornings, something she'd tease him about.
As for the littlest, who has now become an orphan, "we're just praying," Duncan said.
The Sheriff's Office has said that the suspect or suspects should be considered armed and dangerous.
In a news released issued by Nichols' office, the department indicated it already had several leads that were being "vigorously pursued."
Edwards said police and other emergency crews have been canvassing not only the town, which encompasses about a six-block area, but the outlaying fields.
The bodies of the family have been taken to Peoria for autopsies to determine exact cause of death. The autopsies were scheduled for today.
Anyone with information about the murders is asked to call the Logan County Sheriff's Office at 217-732-4159.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.