Deputies: Man accused of burning bodies of missing couple, 2 children in fire pit

Rory Atwood

A west-central Florida man is accused of killing a couple and their two children and burning their bodies in a fire pit, authorities said.

According to Pasco County online court records, Rory John Graeme Atwood, 25, of Hudson, was arrested on June 15 and charged with at least one count of first-degree murder.

Since June 13, deputies with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office had been searching for Rain Mancini, 26; Phillip Zilliot II, 25; Karma Zilliot, 6; and Phillip Zilliot III, 5.

“The caller (said) her brother received a call from the defendant, Rory Atwood, who requested help burning trash,” deputies wrote in a complaint affidavit. “The brother stated he observed a puddle of blood and could see adult and child bodies over the video phone call.”

Court records released on Monday showed that the family of four lived with Atwood on a 10-acre property in Hudson, located about 44 miles north-northwest ot Tampa, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

According to the affidavit, Atwood confirmed the identity of the remains of the missing family to deputies. He allegedly told deputies that he burned their bodies after a fight broke out between himself, Phillip Zilliot and Mancini.

According to the affidavit, Atwood had evicted the family from the residence on June 1 when they stopped paying rent. The family stopped by the residence on June 12 and stayed for several hours to collect their belongings, Atwood allegedly told deputies. The group allegedly had been drinking when an argument ensued.

Atwood claimed he got into an argument with Mancini, who allegedly threatened his daughter while Zilliot II attacked him with a knife, WFLA-TV reported.

Atwood told deputies that he disarmed the man, who punched him in the head, according to the Times. According to the affidavit, a handgun “suddenly” appeared in the room and Zilliot II grabbed it.

The suspect said the two men struggled, and he fired two shots into Zilliot’s head, adding that Mancini also was shot “multiple times” in the head and torso.

According to detectives, Atwood did not say how the children but speculated that they were killed by Zilliot II and Mancini, the Times reported.

Detectives said that Atwood admitted to dragging the bodies out of the residence and into the fire pit, which had already been lit, according to the affidavit. Atwood also allegedly tossed the gun into the fire pit and burned his couch to destroy evidence of bloodstains, the Times reported.

Deputies at the home on June 14 used a cadaver dog, who pulled human skeletal remains from the fire pit, according to the affidavit.

“The defendant burned the two victims and evidence within the fire pit and repeatedly lied to patrol deputies and detectives,” the affidavit states. Atwood also admitted to the knowledge that both juveniles “were also burned in the same fire pit.”

In a June 15 news conference, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said the medical examiner had not identified the remains, so Atwood was charged with homicide of “John Doe,” the Miami Herald reported.

Atwood pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance, according to the Times. He was being held without bond at the Land O’ Lakes Jail, according to the newspaper.

“I want to start with prayers for the family,” Nocco said during a news conference on June 15. “I know a lot of times people say ‘Oh, you’re always saying (things about) praying,’ but if there wasn’t evil in this world we wouldn’t have to pray as much.”

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