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Police have released a motive in the slayings that shook the small town of Manchester, Illinois.

Rick Smith shot six people, killing five, on the morning of April 24 at a Manchester home. Investigators now believe Smith planned the attack to resolve a custody battle over his three-year-old daughter. Smith believed the family of the girl's mother was interfering in the couple's custody dispute.

Police have also learned that Smith did not stray more than 25 miles from the crime scene before he started a shootout with police. Smith was killed in that shootout. A six-year-old girl survived the massacre. 

Published in Local News

MANCHESTER, Ill. (AP) - An effort is under way to raise money for the burial of five people shot to death this week in the small central Illinois town of Manchester.

   A spokeswoman for Peoples Bank & Trust says a fund has been set up by a friend of Rita Luark, the mother of one of the victims and the grandmother of the two young boys who died, because Luark cannot afford burial costs.

   The boys, their parents and their great grandmother were found dead in their home Wednesday. Later that day, the suspected gunman was shot and killed after he shot at police.

   Spokeswoman Lorie Doolin says the fund has been set up in the bank's branch in nearby White Hall. For more information, the bank suggests people visit their website, www.bankpbt.com .

 
Published in Local News

   Authorities say there was a dispute between the man suspected of killing five members of a Manchester, Illinois family and at least one of the victims, but they don't know what it was about.  

   Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond says investigators are running down reports that Rick Smith was involved in a custody dispute with a member of the family.  His brother has said the victims were all related to Smith's ex-girlfriend. 

   Illinois State Police have released the identities of five family members killed.  Authorities have identified the victims as brothers, one year old Brantley Ralston and five year old Nolan Ralston.  Their slain parents are 29 year old James Roy Ralston and 23 year old Brittney Luark, who was also five months pregnant. The fifth victim is Luark's grandmother and the great grandmother of the children, 67 year old Jo Ann Sinclair.

   Hospital officials in Springfield say the lone survivor of the shooting spree, the boys' six year old sister, has been upgraded from serious to fair condition.

   Smith was shot and later died following a gun battle with police.
 
   A trust fund has now been established at the Peoples Bank and Trust to help the family of the victims pay for funeral expenses.  
 
 
Donations can be made to:
 
Peoples Bank and Trust
102 South Main
PO Box 258
White Hall, IL 62092
 
 
Published in Local News

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