LEOLA, Pa. -- A 21-year-old man was charged yesterday in the bludgeoning or strangling of six relatives whose bodies were found wrapped in sheets and blankets in the basement of his grandmother's home.
Authorities said Jesse Dee Wise confessed, but they would not comment on a motive. Three of the victims were hit in the head with a blunt metal object, and three others were strangled, police said in an affidavit.
Wise was arraigned on six counts of criminal homicide. As a judge recited the charges, he seemed to read along with a listing of the victims.
''When will I get a lawyer?" he asked.
Wise was ordered held without bail. The judge set a preliminary hearing for April 20.
Investigators discovered bone fragments, hair, and a hammer in two upstairs bedrooms. There also appeared to be blood on the walls and ceilings, authorities said.
The youngest of the victims, spanning three generations of the same family, was 5 years old.
The victims apparently died of multiple traumatic injuries last weekend, Lancaster District Attorney Don Totaro said.
The dead were identified as Wise's 64-year-old grandmother, Emily; two of her grandchildren, Chance, 5, and Skyler, 19; two relatives believed to be Wise's aunts, Wanda, 45, and Arlene, who is in her 30s; and a 17-year-old relative, Jesse James Wise, said East Lampeter Township Police Chief John Bowman.
The bodies were found after Emily Wise's husband called from New York on Wednesday asking a relative to check on his family in the three-story house in Leola, a small village in Lancaster County's rural Amish country.
Jessie L. Wise, 60, was worried because he had not heard from his wife since the previous Friday, authorities said.
The relative, John Sean Adams, 24, met the first officer at the house.
When they went inside, Adams stopped halfway down the basement steps and yelled: ''They're all dead! All six of them are dead!" the affidavit stated.
Police found several bodies wrapped in sheets and blankets and piled on the basement floor, one of them with obvious head wounds, according to a search warrant affidavit.
One body was at the bottom of the steps wrapped in a comforter secured with a phone cord.
The affidavit also described blood in the rooms and bone fragments.