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Tiny Colleton County town of Ruffin still in shock over horrific triple murder Tuesday

Ruffin, South Carolina (WCIV)

It was a drastically different scene Wednesday afternoon in Ruffin, 24 hours removed from a triple homicide in the tiny Colleton County town.

Two adults and a 13-year-old boy were killed, and a 9-year-old girl was wounded, according to the Colleton County Sheriff's Office.

The shooting is being investigated as a murder.

Kathie Linder and her husband run a snack shop several doors down from the home. She said the town was eerily quiet.

“Business was very slow today because everybody is just driving by real slow,” Linder said. “I think when everybody gets to this house up here they drive by real slow, looking, wondering, me, myself, I did the same thing today.”

Linder said she arrived on the scene shortly after the shooting. She said it’s a scene she’ll never forget.

“Not in my life, no, I have never seen something like that,” she said. “I mean, I guess that’s why I couldn’t sleep last night, I was devastated.”

Although she and many others didn’t know the family, she said the tragedy has rattled nerves.

“Everybody is afraid, they are very upset and shocked. In a town like this, it’s a very small town, we weren’t expecting something like this to happen,” Linder said.

The victims have been identified as 46-year-old Phillip Miller, 52-year-old Lori Miller, and their 13-year-old son, Vincent Miller. Officials say the 9-year-old girl was a granddaughter of the deceased adults.

Colleton County Sheriff's Lt. Tyger Benton said deputies found the two adults dead inside, and the teen dead in the front yard of the home on U.S. Highway 21.

Colleton County Fire-Rescue officials said Tuesday the 9-year-old girl suffered an apparent gunshot wound to the leg, and was flown to the Medical University of South Carolina for treatment.

Tuesday night, the sheriff's office said the girl had gone into surgery for treatment of her injuries, and was believed to be in stable condition. Officials said Wednesday the girl is expected to survive.

According to the sheriff's office, a search of the home uncovered possible narcotics. Lt. Benton says more marijuana than needed for personal use was found in the home, but deputies don't know if the drugs are connected to the killings.

Colleton County Sheriff Andy Strickland said during a press conference Tuesday that his deputies and detectives are searching for possible suspects, and have received leads in their investigation.

Crime scene investigators with the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division are helping the Colleton County Sheriff's Office process the crime scene.
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(The Associated Press contributed information to this report.)

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