PENNSBURG, Pennsylvania — The ex-Marine who went missing after terrorizing multiple Pennsylvania communities by diabolically scratching off a hit list which included his ex-wife and five of her kin—has been discovered dead in the woods just yards from his home, police announced Tuesday.
For two days, numerous Philadelphia suburbs were reeling from one of the most deadly mass murders in the state’s history.
That hysteria was compounded with fear of further bloodshed since Bradley William Stone, the Iraq war veteran armed with blades and guns who killed six and injured a teenage boy, remained on the lam.
Schools were closed and residents from Pennsburg to Lansdale were urged to stay indoors while authorities from local to federal agencies tirelessly went door-to-door hoping to find Stone.
Stone’s bloody story began with a gunshot at 3:30 a.m. Monday at his former sister-in-law’s home. Patricia Flick, her husband and teenage daughter were all slain. The lone survivor of the bloodbath was Flick’s 17-year-old son, who is recovering at a Philadelphia-area hospital.
In Lansdale, cops were summoned 90 minutes later to where Stone allegedly slaughtered Jo Anne Koder and her 75-year-old grandmother, Patricia Hill, at around 4:30 a.m.
The Marine reservist then went after his ex-wife, Nicole Hill Stone.
According to a next-door neighbor, Stone attacked just before 5 a.m. and targeted the mother of Stone’s daughters, believed to be 5 and 8 years old, inside her Harleysville apartment—mere feet from their daughters.
“I heard the kids say, ‘Mommy no. We need my mom. I want my mom.’ And I heard [the suspect] say ‘Let’s go. We have to go now. We’re leaving,’” she told reporters.
According to officials, Stone’s two daughters were safely taken from their Lower Salford home unharmed. But the police nevertheless declared Stone to be “armed and dangerous,” despite getting around with a cane.
Hence the SWAT teams and armored trucks surrounding his house.
Some of Stone's neighbors, who live between Dotts and 4th Streets in Pennsburg, said their electricity and water had been cut off.
And the stop sign at the corner, which on weekdays serves as a hub for children to be picked up and dropped off by yellow school busses—today was cordoned off by wooden signs to curb the throng of public from treading too close.
Just after 2 p.m. the cops rushed the house with massive shields and high-caliber rifles and took down the front door of Stone’s house after firing tear-gas canisters.
“It was a bunch of shouts and then half-a-dozen ‘pop-pop-pops.’ Then I saw them with their guns break down the door with a battering ram—and a dog came out scared,” Mark Roberto, 52, told The Daily Beast.
Roberto, a truck driver on disability who lives 50 yards from the melee, said the dog, a collie/shepherd mix, was Stone’s.
Yet Stone himself was nowhere to be found.
Among the scores of bystanders watching their small town turn into war zone was a Marine veteran who was close with Stone.
“He’s a good friend of mine,” the Marine, who requested anonymity, told The Daily Beast. “He’s a good guy.”
Visibly affected the by military atmosphere the young man admitted his emotions were volatile.
“I’m really worked up right now so be careful.”
The veteran, said he met Stone at support group Vets for Veterans.
The local venue happens to be a converted post office, located literally across the street from Stone’s home.
Both the young man and Stone served tours in Iraq.
Stone, according to Marine officials, served eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. According to the young man, both were dealing with the aftermath.
“Brad suffers from what a lot of veterans suffer from—you can call it battle fatigue or PTSD or whatever. And he’s been dealing with his health since he got back."
They last connected recently, and Stone’s friend said the proud Marine and father seemed to be on an upswing.
“I saw him a couple weeks back and his health seemed to be better,” the friend said.
For unexplained reasons, things went south.
And despite the training and toughness, the man was struggling to keep his family together.
“His [baby] daughters—that’s part of it. But he’s a Marine and Marines are more resilient than anybody else,” Stone’s friend said.
And it’s possible that, however tough he was on the outside, Stone was beginning to show signs of crumbling.
Drew Servis, 24, was walking home Sunday night and recalls the temperature well below freezing. He was taken aback when he saw Stone standing on the street corner just outside his home, with his face eyeing the pavement in August attire.
“He was standing on the corner and wearing only a T-shirt and jeans, and this was 11:30 at night and it was really cold.”
Servis, a general contractor, was baffled by how introverted Stone acted.
“His head was down and I said to him, ‘How’s it going?’ and he just kept looking down, with his hands in his pockets, staring at the ground.”
That same impression was felt when a deliveryman, who, fearing reprisals, spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity, said he brought Stone his usual dinner on Friday night.
But his regular customer (who he admitted tipped well) wasn’t up for much conversation and was keeping his home “pitch black."
“All the lights were off,” the deliveryman recalled from his food order he brought over early on Friday. “That was just weird. I didn’t think anybody was home.”
Stone, slipped the deliveryman a five-spot, but was curt.
“He gave me five bucks tip,” the deliveryman said. “But when he paid me he only stuck his arm out. And he didn’t say anything but ‘Have a good weekend.’”
Neighbors who spoke to the Daily Beast described the slice of Pennsburg as bucolic. But some longtime residents rattled off a spate of activity on the block including a recent fire on the corner of the block, which was a former drug den, and other bomb scares that were false alarms.
But it’s also the same Main Street in this blue-collar hamlet where Colleen LaRose – a.k.a. “Jihad Jane”— infamously hatched plans to carry out “her murder assignment” to off a Swedish citizen.
Neighbors who lived near the LaRoses’ address were shaking their heads at the town once again getting propped in the national eye—this time it wasn’t treason but tragedy.
“It’s bizarre,” said Dan Day, 42, a chemist who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years. “She lived 250 feet from this guy.
“It makes you wonder. It’s like lightning strikes twice.”