• 'Our family will remain strong:' Family of Jacksonville triple murder victims release statement

    By: Danielle Avitable , Russell Colburn , Cole Heath , Ben Becker , Action News Jax


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - LATEST UPDATES: Sources: Jacksonville parents shot to death, baby died from smoke inhalation

    UPDATE, Dec. 23, 2:47 p.m.:  Family of the Woodland Acres triple-shooting victims released a statement nearly two weeks after the young family died in their home.

    In the statement, Katrina and Mario Peterson, grandparents of Ariyan Johnson, thanked the media for "keeping the story alive" in hopes of finding the murder suspects. 

    Sources had told Action News Jax Johnson and Quasean Trotter were shot to death. Their 11-month-old child, Arielle Trotter, died from smoke inhalation, sources told Action News Jax.

    The funeral for the young family was held Saturday.

    UPDATE, Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m.: Police have confirmed they are investigating the deaths of a young family killed in Woodland Acres as a triple murder.

    Sources tell Action News Jax Arielle Trotter, 11 months, died of smoke inhalation.  

    They say her parents, Ariyan Johnson and Quasean Trotter, were shot and killed inside the home on India Avenue.

    Thursday, Action News Jax spoke exclusively with a man who didn’t want to be identified, but said he heard gunshots Tuesday night.

    “It was about 6:30-7 o’clock, and I heard four rounds, four gunshots,” the man said.  “[They were] really loud.”

    Action News Jax asked the man if it’s possible the shots were from something else.

    “No,” he replied. “I heard it. It had to be this.”

    Detectives and crime scene technicians were back at the home Thursday and seemed to focus on the backyard.

    That’s also where Action News Jax cameras captured a broken window with shattered glass and burned belongings on the ground.

    Johnson’s grandmother, Katrina Peterson, spoke for the first time with tears streaming down her face.

    “I miss my granddaughter so much, and I love her,” Peterson said.

    UPDATE, Dec. 14., 12 p.m.: A resident who lives near the house where a young family was found dead shared photos with Action News Jax of the scene.

    It appears to show a shattered window, and broken glass and charred belongings on the ground. 

    A neighbor told Action News Jax he heard four gunshots shortly before police responded to the home on India Avenue.

    UPDATE, Dec. 14, 11 a.m.: A source told Action News Jax the man and woman whose bodies were found in their burning home were killed from gunshot wounds. Their 11-month-old child, whose body was also found in the home by investigators, died from smoke inhalation.

    UPDATE, Dec. 14, 10:42 a.m.: Jacksonville police told Action News Jax it is now calling the deaths of a baby and her parents a triple murder investigation. 

    UPDATE, Dec. 13, 11 p.m.: The family of Quasean Trotter wants answers after their brother was found dead along with Ariyan Johnson and their 11-month-old baby Arielle. 

    "It’s kind of frustrating trying to figure out what's going on,” Trotter's sister Diejah Dent said. 

    Dent said her family is in shock. 

    "It wasn't something we expected. It's devastating. It's tragic, being that my niece in involved. She wasn't even 1 yet," Dent said. 

    Police said all three were found dead inside their home after the family’s Christmas tree caught fire Tuesday night.

    “It's heartbreaking to know that a sibling is gone," Dent said. 

    Officers said there was no sign of forced entry, but they suspect foul play.

    "I’m not sure what happened, what went on in the house, for any of this to occur," Dent said. 

    The family is described as being close-knit and Dent said she didn’t know of any trouble between the couple. 

    "He loved them and they loved each other," Dent said. 

    Dent said Trotter adored his only daughter. 

    "He was a great father. That was his main priority. She was his only child and he did all he could for her. She was very well taken care of," Dent said. 

    Days before their bodies were found, video was posted to Facebook showing the family checking out Christmas lights. 

    The family said they think someone knows something.  

    “There’s no way nobody seen or heard nothing. There’s no way. There’s no way. Somebody needs to start talking because a baby’s involved. What if that was your child?” Trotter’s other sister, who didn’t want to be named, said. 

    UPDATE, Dec.13, 6 p.m.: Police are still working to learn how a young family of three died.

    The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office does suspect foul play in the deaths of Ariyan Johnson, 19, Quasean Trotter, 20, and their 11-month-old daughter, Arielle.

    Officers said all three were found dead inside a burning home on India Avenue in Woodland Acres.

    Johnson’s grandfather, Mario Peterson, spoke exclusively with Action News Jax about the pain of losing three family members at once

    “Two weeks ago, I just held my great-granddaughter in my hand, here,” Peterson said. “And to just imagine that she’s gone from me, my world is crashing right now.”

    Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department crews had to force their way into the home Tuesday night and found the family's Christmas tree on fire.

    Action News Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson believes the toddler’s tragic death presents investigators with a clue.

    “The question would be, if there was an intruder, why would they go and take the life of a young child?” Jefferson said. “Which also, again, leads us to believe that it’s a domestic dispute of some sort, and ended up in a murder-suicide.”

    Original story below:

    The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is investigating after it said a man, woman and  toddler were found dead in a home in the Woodland Acres area on Tuesday night. 

    The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department responded to a home in the 8900 block of India Avenue and found three bodies after forcing entry into the home.

    Firefighters could see that a Christmas tree caught on fire and burned, officials say.

    JSO responded around 8:30 p.m. to begin investigating. Police said the bodies and evidence are covered in soot, so they have to work around that.

    Foul play is suspected in the deaths, but police could not say what evidence leads them to believe that.

    "(There is an) adult male, adult female and toddler dead. We suspect foul play but the investigation is in its early stages and we don't have much information at this point," said Sgt. David Smith.

    JSO has not yet released the identities of the victims, but people gathered outside the home claimed they were relatives of the victims. 

    "We have no idea. The door was locked. We have no idea what happened, just that they're no longer with us," said one relative. 

    Screams of one of the relatives could be heard as family consoled each other. 

    Relatives have confirmed pictures of the mother, Ariyan Johnson, and child who died Tuesday night. Family says the father was Quasean Trotter and the daughter was named Arielle.

    Action News Jax reporter Cole Heath is on the scene working to learn more information. 

    Refresh this page, follow @ActionNewsJax on Twitter and watch Action News Jax for updates.

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