(Editor’s Note: Due to the nature of this crime, this news story contains some graphic information.)
A young couple and their 17-month-old daughter have been murdered. A 24-year-old Williamsville man has been charged with nine felonies in connection with the murders.
The dead have been identified as 24-year-old Harley Million, 23-year-old Samara Kitts, and 17-month-old Willa Fontaine Million. Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch said Kitts and Million were killed in their Wayne County home and the child was shot and killed in Butler County where the bodies were found.
The murders have rocked a three-county area where the family has ties. The young family lived in Wayne County but had relatives in Carter and Reynolds counties.
The young family was last seen on Thursday, Jan. 25. On Sunday, authorities had issued an endangered persons advisory for the family that lived between on Highway A, between Mill Spring and Ellsinore.
Drew Atchison, 24, of Williamsville has been arrested. He is currently being held in the Wayne County Jail; no bond has been set. Sheriff Finch said that Atchison has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of armed criminal action, two counts of child kidnapping, and tampering with a motor vehicle.
Sheriff Finch said this case is being referred to the Attorney General’s Office due to the nature of the charges and additional resources provided by that office.
The case is being investigated by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, the Butler County Sheriff’s Department, and Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime and Control.
The murders are believed to have occurred Jan. 25. Million’s truck was found Jan. 26 at a residence on Cemetery Road in Williamsville. There appeared to be blood in the bed of the truck, according to a probable cause statement written by Corporal J.A. Lacy of the Highway Patrol.
On Sunday, family members of Million and Kitts were posting pictures and begging people to help them find their loved ones. Later that evening, an endangered persons advisory was issued by the Highway Patrol. The advisory was stopped during the early morning hours Monday.
“On Jan. 28, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office received a report of three missing persons from the residence at Rt. 1, Box 1512, Mill Spring. The reporting party stated Harley Million, Samara F. Kitts, and a child had not been heard from in several days. When deputies arrived at the residence, they observed evidence at the rear of the house which indicated a possible homicide occurred,” reads Lacey’s probable cause statement.
During the investigation, authorities spoke with Million’s mother, Karie. She told authorities that her son had received a text message from Bruce Atchison at 6 a.m. Authorities determined Atchison lived in the residence directly behind where Million’s truck had been located. Investigators spoke with Atchison and his brother Drew D. Atchison.
During the conversation, Drew Atchison reportedly admitted to authorities to being at the Million’s residence and to killing them.
The probable cause statement said that Atchsion confessed to slitting Million and Kitts’ throats. He placed their bodies in the back of Million’s truck. He locked the toddler in a room with the couple’s dogs. He reportedly left the scene and drove home.
The next morning, he drove back to the Million’s home and reportedly destroyed evidence of a homicide. “He eventually placed the child inside the Million truck, where her parents lay dead in the bed,” Lacey’s statement reads. “He drove all three of them to a location off of JJ Highway.”
Officers found the bodies of all three victims on private property near Highway JJ and County Road 417. Authorities identified the area as being a part of the Atchison Farm. The area where the bodies were found was in Butler County.
“Upon arrival, he threw the knife in the woods,” Lacey’s statement reads. “He also took the deceased bodies of Hraley Million and Samara Kitts and hid them under blankets and trash. He then took the child out of the vehicle. He eventually held her in his arms, with her facing away from him, and shot her in the back of the head.”
After shooting the child, he reportedly hid her body under the blankets and trash with her parents. From there, Atchison reportedly drove to Black River where he threw the vehicle registration in the river. He then drove to his house and parked the vehicle under a carport. Authorities said he attempted to hide the vehicle by placing tarps over the front and rear of the it.
Murder charges have been filed in two different counties because of where the crimes occurred. Harley Million and Samara Kitts were killed in Wayne County; Willa Million was murdered in Butler County.
Sheriff Finch said authorities are not releasing any information right now on a possible motive.
Autopsies were conducted on Tuesday, Jan. 30, in Farmington, Mo.