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Pasco man burned bodies of missing couple and two children, officials say

A Pasco man has been charged with murder in connection with the disappearance of a family of four who went missing last week. He told officials he killed the parents and burned their bodies and those of their two young children, records show.

The MPs sought since last week for Rain Mancini, 26, Phillip Zilliot II, 25, 6-year-old Karma Zilliot and 5-year-old Phillip Zilliot III.

In court documents made public Monday, investigators said the family lived with 25-year-old Rory Atwood on a 10-acre property off Nottingham Trail in Hudson.

According to new details from an affidavit, Atwood confirmed the identity of the remains to officials and said he burned them after an argument broke out in the house between himself, Phillip Zilliot II and Mancini.

The investigation began Thursday afternoon when Atwood's boyfriend's sister notified authorities about the killings, records show.

Her brother said Atwood called him and asked for help burning garbage. When he answered the video call, he saw a pool of blood and the bodies of adults and children, the affidavit said.

Officers thoroughly checked the property but found nothing suspicious. One officer noticed a fire that was still smoldering and smoking.

The next day, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office received a second call, this time from Atwood's high school friend. He told officers that Atwood had “admitted to killing his roommates and their children,” court records say.

On Friday afternoon, officers returned to Atwood's property with a cadaver dog. The dog dug through the fireplace and recovered small skeletal remains. Forensic teams also found “two obvious human vertebrae, all of which showed obvious thermal damage,” the affidavit states.

In further interviews with investigators, Atwood gave contradictory accounts of the murders. He initially said that officials might find horse bones on his property and asked how quickly human flesh would decompose.

Pasco officials said they are searching for a missing family of four last seen in Hudson the night of June 12-13: Rain Mancini, 26; Phillip Zilliot II, 25; 6-year-old Karma Zilliot and 5-year-old Phillip Zilliot III. [¬†Pasco County Sheriff’s Office¬†]

Atwood told authorities he evicted the family on June 1 after they stopped paying rent. They stopped by the house unannounced on Wednesday night and stayed for a few hours to get their belongings out of the house, he said.

During a later search, officers found items belonging to the family. Atwood said the family left them behind because they “didn't have time to take the items with them.”

Mancini told him she would stay with the children in a women's shelter, and Zilliot said he would stay in a tent in a nearby park, Atwood said.

Others who were there Wednesday night told officers that Mancini and Zilliot had been drinking with Atwood at the home. Their children were there, as was a friend of Mancini's and Atwood's four-year-old daughter.

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The girl told investigators she saw Mancini arguing at her father's house. The girl's mother told investigators Atwood called her early Thursday morning and said there had been an argument.

At 6 a.m., Atwood dropped the girl off at her mother's house in a blue BMW sedan. Her mother told investigators that Atwood had not acted “himself.”

Atwood told authorities in an interview Saturday that Zilliot and Mancini entered his bedroom armed with knives. Atwood said he disarmed Zilliot, who then punched him in the head. Atwood threw the knife out of the bedroom and saw Mancini stab Atwood's daughter in the throat, he said.

Atwood told officers that a gun suddenly appeared in the room and Zilliot grabbed it. They wrestled over the gun and Atwood fired two shots into Zilliot's head, he told investigators. Atwood said Mancini was also shot multiple times in the torso and head.

Investigators said Atwood did not say how the two children died, but he suspected Zilliot and Mancini killed them.

Full of adrenaline, Atwood dragged the adults' bodies out of the living room, out the front door and into the fireplace, which he said was already lit, he told investigators.

Atwood also threw the gun into the fireplace and burned his couch to destroy evidence of blood stains from the murders, he said.

Officers photographed Atwood and determined that he had no injuries consistent with a fight.

Investigators believe Atwood is responsible for the deaths of the adults. However, whether he also killed the children is still under investigation.

“The defendant burned both victims and evidence in the fire pit and repeatedly lied to patrol officers and detectives,” the affidavit states. He also “admitted that he knew that both juveniles … were also burned in the same fire pit,” the affidavit states.

Atwood has a criminal record dating back to 2016. At that time, he was accused of fleeing from the police. He was 17 years old at the time. A few months after his 18th birthday, the parents of Atwood's then-girlfriend filed restraining orders against him, accusing him of stalking. Both orders were lifted, according to the documents.

In 2019, he was sentenced to a year of probation for assault after walking into a Hudson Circle K and punching someone, records show.

Atwood is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the missing family case. He pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance Monday. He was being held without bail at the Land O' Lakes Jail, records show.

Investigators have not yet been able to clearly identify the remains found in the fireplace and are still awaiting the results of the forensic examination.

The Pasco Sheriff's Office has asked anyone with information about the incident to call the agency at 727-847-8102 (option 7) or report tips at PascoSheriff.com/tips.

Times writer Brandon Kingdollar contributed to this report.