A family of six people, including a former Farmington man, who were slain at a Texas campsite Saturday had spent time that day talking to alleged killer William Hudson, whose family owned adjacent land.

Hudson later returned and killed six of the campers, including Carl Johnson, 77, formerly of Farmington, his daughter and 6-year-old grandson, the Anderson County Sheriff said.

While the sheriff’s department is not releasing names until after autopsies are performed, several news sources have reported that those killed include Johnson and his 40-year-old daughter, Hannah. Others reportedly killed were Hannah Johnson’s son, Kade Johnson, 6; her boyfriend, Thomas Kamp, 46; and Kamp’s two oldest children.

Texas TV station KLTV reported that the bodies of Carl and Hannah Johnson were found Sunday morning in a camping trailer. Police said it appears they were shot. The other bodies were discovered in a pond.

Cynthia Johnson, Carl Johnson’s wife and also a former Farmington resident, was the sole survivor of Saturday’s attack. She escaped and called 911.

Contacted by phone Tuesday, Gayle Russell, a cousin of Cynthia Johnson, said the extended family is very close and was focused on supporting each other as best they can.

“It’s very tragic, and we are all stunned, dumbfounded, and we’re trying to find the best way to support the family,” said Russell, who is the mother of Maine state Rep. Diane Russell. “This is an unbelievable event. You never expect it to happen in your family or anyone close to you.”

A Johnson family friend from Farmington, who asked that her name not be used, also reported the victims were members of the Johnson and Kamp family and told the Morning Sentinel Tuesday that Hannah Johnson and Kamp had recently bought the Texas property where they were killed, and that their first use of the property was over the weekend for a family camping trip.

“Everyone is pretty shattered,” said the family friend, who works at Sandy River Farm Market, which is part of the Sandy River Farms business managed by Carl Johnson’s son Erik.

Hannah Johnson and Thomas Kamp lived in Midlothian, Texas, about 100 miles from where they were camping.

Carl and Cynthia Johnson retired from the University of Maine at Farmington in 1999, the friend said.

UMF said in a statement that the Johnsons were passionate about traveling the country, and they were “valued members of the university community.”

“We are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy, and our hearts go out to the family,” the university’s statement said.

Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor said that Hudson, 33, of Tennessee Colony, Texas, was arrested Monday and charged with murder.

Taylor said at a press conference Monday afternoon that the bodies of four people who were initially thought to be missing were found in a pond outside Hudson’s house on Monday afternoon. It’s not clear how they died.

KLTV said that Kade Johnson and Kamp were found in the pond along with Kamp’s two oldest children.

Taylor confirmed Monday that the bodies of a man and a woman were found in a camper on the property early Sunday morning, but did not identify the victims found in the trailer or the pond.

Taylor said that the victims recently bought the undeveloped land adjacent to property owned by Hudson and his family.

He said Tuesday that Hudson had met the family on Saturday, had spent time talking with them and helped dislodge one of their vehicles from mud. He returned hours later Saturday night when he allegedly attacked.

Police believe that Hudson acted alone and said he has a previous record of violent behavior. They gave no motive for the killings. Hudson had been arrested on an unrelated assault charge earlier this month, the sheriff’s department said.

Family members say the six people killed were part of a blended family that had come from as far away as California for a weekend together. Family member Steven Woodruff said Tuesday the group was camping on wooded land that his nephew, 46-year-old Thomas Kamp, had purchased in August.

The trio was joined last weekend by Carl and Cynthia Johnson and Kamp’s two sons from a previous marriage, Nathan and Austin Kamp, who were California residents. The family was also celebrating Nathan Kamp’s 24th birthday.

Erik Johnson went to Texas after the killings to be with his stepmother, Cynthia, and his wife, Trudy, has stayed in Farmington to look after the farm, the Farmington family friend said.

She said that Hannah’s son and Kamp’s children had just visited Farmington this summer, and Erik’s daughter was just beginning to get close with her “new cousins.”

A spokeswoman from the sheriff’s office told the Morning Sentinel Tuesday that the survivor is now with family and that she was injured, but they aren’t certain if her injuries were caused by Hudson.

Sheriff Taylor told reporters that the killings were the largest mass murder he has ever seen. He said deputies were called to the campsite just before 7 a.m. Sunday after the sole survivor made her way to a main road and called 911.

 

The Associated Press and Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.