Nov. 19, 6 p.m.: This story has been updated to include information that the suspect is charged with six counts of capital murder and remarks by the district attorney and sheriff regarding the case.
PALESTINE, Texas – The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office has positively identified the victims and provided details on the six people shot and killed on a weekend camping trip that included two former local residents.
Sheriff Greg Taylor said Carl Johnson, 76, his daughter Hannah Johnson, 40, both former residents of Farmington, and her son Kade Johnson, 6, were among those killed Saturday.
Also identified were Hannah Johnson’s partner of five years Thomas Kamp, 46, and his two adult sons Nathan Kamp, 23, and Austin Kamp, 21, who were visiting from California.
A suspect, William Mitchell Hudson, 33, has been arrested and charged with murder. Police currently say they still don’t have a motive for what they are calling the largest mass murder in that county’s history.
Carl Johnson’s wife Cynthia Johnson managed to escape the attack by hiding in the woods until she was able to call police on Sunday morning.
Sheriff Taylor said his office was called at 7:02 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 15 to the report of a possible shooting. At 7:19 a.m. “deputies arrived and discovered the crime scene, two deceased, one male, one female in a travel trailer.” Taylor later identified the victims in the trailer as Carl and Hannah Johnson.
Law enforcement officers continued to search the area through the day on Sunday looking for four more people unaccounted for and to collect evidence which led them to a neighbor, William Hudson. He was found at his mother’s house, located near his own house. Later on Sunday, he “into custody without incident,” Taylor said, and “is charged with one count of murder and bond is set at $2.5 million.”
At 1:15 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 16, the bodies of four people, Thomas Kamp, his sons Nathan and Austin Kamp and Kade Johnson, were removed from a pond behind Hudson’s residence.
The only survivor of the killings, Cynthia Johnson, told police that on Saturday “a man riding an orange tractor approached the campsite and identified himself as ‘William.'” Hudson helped pull their vehicle out of the mud and then he returned to their campsite later in the evening.
“He sat with Cynthia Johnson and her family and consumed alcoholic drinks with them. He later accompanied several members of the family into the surrounding woods after which Cynthia Johnson heard multiple gunshots,” according to the arrest affidavit.
“William returned to the campsite alone” and he then reportedly “chased two of Johnson’s family members into the camper trailer.” Cynthia Johnson said she heard two gun shots and watched as her husband, Carl Johnson, fell onto the steps of the camper. Police said they identified the other body in the camper trailer as Hannah Johnson.
“Cynthia Johnson continued to hide hearing multiple gunshots,” the affidavit said, and “she continued to hide until she felt it was safe to move.” On Sunday morning she called police. On arriving at the campsite, officers canvased the area and found Hudson at his mother’s house, reportedly wearing a blood-stained shirt. Police located the tractor and said it also had blood on it.
The Johnsons both worked in the administrative offices at the University of Maine at Farmington and moved to Texas a decade ago when they retired. Hannah Johnson moved to Texas to be closer to her parents.
The families spent the weekend camping together on wooded land in East Texas that Thomas Kamp had purchased in August, according to Kamp’s uncle Steven Woodruff, at a news conference held on Tuesday.
In Farmington, Carl and Cynthia Johnson’s son, Erik, with wife Trudy help manage the Sandy River Farms with her parents, Bussie and Brenda York, and own the Sandy River Farm Market, both on the Farmington Falls Road.
“Carl and Cindy retired from the University of Maine at Farmington in 1999 to pursue their passion for traveling the country. They were valued members of the university community and we are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy and our hearts go out to the family,” said Laurie Gardner, UMF’s chief business officer.
On Thursday, Nov. 19, Hudson was “was served with six separate arrest warrants for the offense of Capital Murder,” according to the Anderson County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.
“There are no adequate words to truly describe this horrific and senseless act,” said Anderson County District Attorney Allyson Mitchell. “Six members of two different, yet joined families are gone. Our hearts grieve for the Johnson and Kamp’s families and we will use all our resources to prosecute Hudson to the fullest extent of the law.”
“I would ask that we all continue to pray for the families of these victims,” Sheriff Taylor said today.