Missing Family Found Burned in Backyard Fire Pit

A horrifying incident unfolded in Florida as a landlord allegedly murdered a family of four, including two young children, and burned their remains in a fire pit at their shared residence, according to police reports on Tuesday. The accused, 25-year-old Rory Atwood, reportedly confessed to the brutal act following a disagreement with the parents, who were his high school friends.

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco, in his address to the media, described the incident as an act of pure evil. Atwood initially denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of the Zilliot family, which included 26-year-old Rain Mancini, 25-year-old Phillip Zilliot II, and their children Karma and Phillip III, aged 6 and 5, respectively.

The Zilliot family, who were living in Atwood’s Hudson home, were reported missing last Thursday by Mancini’s mother after she failed to receive their usual daily communication. Atwood, a father himself, allowed investigators to search his property on the same day. Detectives found nothing unusual, except for an actively smoldering and smoking fire pit in the backyard.

The following day, a friend of Atwood informed the police that Atwood had confessed to him about murdering his roommates and their children. This led investigators to return to the property with cadaver dogs, which reportedly discovered small skeletal remains, soft tissue, and two human vertebrae in the fire pit. A strong chlorine odor was also detected on the back patio.

Atwood, who initially claimed he had evicted the family due to non-payment of rent, eventually confessed to the murders. He alleged that Zilliot II and Mancini had stormed into the house on Wednesday night, both brandishing knives. Atwood claimed that a physical altercation ensued, during which he disarmed Zilliot II. He further claimed that he shot both parents after Mancini threatened his 4-year-old daughter with a knife.

Atwood did not reveal the whereabouts of the children during the altercation but suggested that the parents might have killed them. He later changed his statement, indicating that the children’s bodies were also in the fire pit, but did not admit to their murder.

Atwood reportedly used his adrenaline to drag the bodies of Zilliot II and Mancini to the fire pit and into the flames, which he claimed they had started. Investigators are still trying to link the bodies found at the scene to the missing family, but Atwood has been charged with their murders based on his confession. Atwood pleaded not guilty on Monday and is currently being held without bond.