Landlord kills family of four and burns their bodies in fire pit

Friday, June 21, 2024 - A Florida landlord gunned down a family of four with young kids and burned their remains in the fire pit of the home they shared, police said Tuesday, June 18.

Rory Atwood, 25, allegedly admitted to slaughtering the family — which included children aged 5 and 6 — after getting into a dispute with the parents, who he was friends with since high school.

“If there wasn’t evil in this world, we wouldn’t have to pray as much. And when I talk about this story today, you’re going to hear about evil,” Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco told reporters.

Atwood initially denied having any knowledge of the whereabouts of the Zilliot family, which included Rain Mancini, 26; Phillip Zilliot II, 25; and their young kids Karma and Phillip III, 6 and 5, respectively, Nocco said.

The family, who was staying at Atwood’s Hudson home, were reported missing Thursday, June 13, by Mancini’s mother after the mom-of-two failed to keep up their daily communications.

Atwood, a father himself, permitted investigators to search the property that same day, but detectives didn’t notice anything amiss other than the backyard firepit that was “actively smoldering and smoking,” the criminal complaint states.

The next day, a friend of Atwood told police that the landlord had called him the night prior and admitted to “killing his roommates and their children,” the document said.

Investigators returned to the property with cadaver dogs, which reportedly pulled “small skeletal remains,” soft tissue and two human vertebrae out of the fire pit. The back patio was also drenched in a strong chlorine odor.

Atwood, who initially claimed he kicked them out earlier over failure to pay rent, eventually buckled and confessed to killing the family.

According to his account, Zilliot II and Mancini stormed into the home Wednesday night, June 12, with both parents wielding knives. Zilliot II tried to use a knife on Atwood, his high school friend, but resorted to a fistfight when Atwood disarmed him, the accused killer claimed.

The landlord snapped when he saw Mancini using her knife to “poke” his own 4-year-old daughter in the throat, he told detectives.

They struggled over the knives and a firearm Zilliot II reportedly brought, with Atwood ultimately gaining control and firing it at both his former friends, according to court documents.

He did not disclose where the victims’ children were during the struggle, but told police he believes the parents killed their children.

Atwood later backtracked and said little Karma and Phillip’s bodies were also in the fire pit, but didn’t admit to killing them.

That’s when Atwood used his “adrenaline” to drag Zilliot II and Mancini’s bodies to the fire pit and into the flames he claims they started.

Investigators are still working to tie the family to the bodies found at the scene, but have charged Atwood in their deaths based on his testimony, Nocco said.

Atwood pleaded not guilty Monday, June 17, and is being held without bond, court records show.

Post a Comment