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Kentucky teen shot in Md. Saturday believed to have killed family Wednesday night

Police say a triple-murder likely took place Wednesday night, days before Saturday chase, shooting.

Authorities in Maryland on Sunday tried to piece together the route taken by a Kentucky teenager suspected of killing his family in a small town before he shot and injured a Baltimore County police officer after a high-speed chase ended in Essex.

The 16-year-old, identified by police as Jason C. Hendrix of Corbin, Ky., was killed Saturday morning by Baltimore County police officers, who shot him after they say he opened fire on them at Route 702 and Hyde Park Road. In Hendrix's hometown, where residents say violent crime is rare, detectives said the teen was the suspect in the shooting deaths of his mother, father and sister — leaving the family's shocked friends in mourning.

"We trusted him so much at our church," said Pastor Drew Mahan of Forward Community Church in Corbin, describing Hendrix as a "mainstay" of the congregation. "This is so off-the-charts different from Jason that it's really thrown us for a loop. ... We desperately want to know why, and what happened."

In Baltimore County, police said they don't know why the teenager was in the region or when he got here. On Saturday, driving a Honda Pilot, he led police on a chase that started as an attempted traffic stop by Maryland State Police in Harford County, then went around I-695 from Woodlawn to Essex.

"At this point, we do not know why he was in Maryland, and we don't know the exact route he took," said Cpl. John Wachter, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Police Department. "Obviously, those are the questions we're going to be trying to answer."

County police say six officers shot at Hendrix; their names have not yet been released. Hendrix's body was taken to the state medical examiner for an autopsy, Wachter said.

The bodies of Sarah Hendrix, her husband, Kevin, and their daughter, Grace, were found in the home, each with multiple gunshot wounds, said Detective Bill Rose of the Corbin Police Department. The bodies were taken to the medical examiner's office in Frankfort, Ky., for autopsies.

Corbin police, with the help of Kentucky State Police, are still investigating, but Rose said the initial findings indicate that the shootings took place Wednesday night.

"We've still probably got a couple more search warrants to conduct for the house, and computer searches," Rose said in a phone interview Sunday morning. "We're still looking."

The Associated Press reported that Corbin Police Chief David Campbell said Jason Hendrix was angry at his parents for taking away his computer privileges days before the slayings. "The mother had talked to a co-worker and told her that he was really mad about that," Campbell said.

According to the police chief, Kevin Hendrix — still wearing a sport coat and tie from work — was shot twice in the head. Sarah Hendrix was shot twice in the face and Grace was shot twice in the head and once in the arm.

Another family member — a daughter of the Hendrix family — was away at college in Georgia, Rose said. He added that she had been notified, and was en route to Kentucky.

Investigators there have said they found the bodies Saturday after being notified by police in Baltimore County that a vehicle registered to the home was involved in the police pursuit here.

On Wednesday evening, Jason Hendrix was at Forward Community Church, where he was well-liked and had many friends, said Mahan, the pastor.

"He was totally fine on that night," Mahan said.

The teen was very involved in the church, Mahan said. He usually arrived at 7 a.m. Sundays to help set up equipment for the worship service three hours later. He often swept the parking lot, too.

Mahan, who baptized the teenager this past December, said Hendrix "has been in some trouble at home, but nothing really serious — just typical teenage stuff."

The pastor, who knew Hendrix for several years, had a long talk with him and his father a few months ago to help mediate communication issues between the two.

"It was nothing that would have led to anything like this," Mahan, 34, said. "It was just typical family tensions."

The city of Corbin, which has a population of about 7,300, is near the Daniel Boone National Forest.

"It's a small and close community where you leave your doors unlocked," said Shawna Wilson Angel, a Corbin resident. "It's a pretty laid back place."

The main employers in the area are a Wal-Mart distribution center and a Sylvania auto headlight plant.

At the Hendrix family's church, members are baffled why Jason Hendrix would go to the Baltimore region, the pastor said.

"We know of no Maryland connection at all," Mahan said.

On Sunday, Maryland State Police revealed new details of the pursuit, which had started shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday when troopers first tried to stop a driver — later identified as Jason Hendrix — for speeding on I-95 near mile marker 80, just south of the Maryland House Travel Plaza.

State police spokesman Greg Shipley said Sunday that troopers did not know of the Kentucky family's deaths when they tried to pull him over.

At about mile marker 60, Maryland Transportation Authority Police deployed stop sticks, which Hendrix successfully avoided, according to Shipley.

Then Hendrix unsuccessfully tried to ram pursuing State Police patrol cars, and the pursuit continued through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, he said.

When the vehicle approached mile marker 49 at I-695, Hendrix crossed over to the northbound lanes of I-95 and continued south on the shoulder, Shipley said, as troopers continued driving in the southbound lanes.

Hendrix then took the ramp from I-195, still driving in the wrong direction. Troopers lost sight of the vehicle, ending their pursuit about 10:17 a.m. They issued a bulletin to local law enforcement to be on the lookout for the vehicle.

A Baltimore County police officer located Hendrix's vehicle in Woodlawn, but he failed to stop, leading county police to pursue him east on I-695 and eventually onto Route 702, where he crashed into a Honda Accord and stopped.

When Baltimore County began their pursuit, troopers were on the way, but didn't get there until after the gunfire, Shipley said.

In Kentucky, those who knew the family were in mourning.

Kevin Hendrix worked at a county clerk's office and was "a quiet guy," Mahan said.

He was also a beekeeper who sold honey at the local farmers' market, said Michelle Payne, 30, a teacher who lives across the street from the family home.

Sarah Hendrix was a beloved professor of social work at Union College, a school in Barbourville, Ky., that has about 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Former student Lauren Slusher, 25, said she remained friends with the professor after graduating. Like other students, Slusher often turned to her for personal advice.

"She was a compassionate person. She went above and beyond," Slusher said. "She spread love everywhere she went."

In teaching social work, Sarah Hendrix emphasized the importance of connecting with the community, Slusher said.

"She loved her community and she wanted to better her community," she said. "She believed that if you helped your community, the world would get better."

Grace Hendrix was a cheerleader and was in the sixth grade, according to Payne.

"She was a really friendly little girl," Payne said.

Local students are distraught, and are shocked that Jason Hendrix was a suspect in his family members' deaths, Payne said.

"They still don't believe it was him," she said.

Baltimore Sun reporters Jacques Kelly and Sean Welsh contributed to this article.

alisonk@baltsun.com

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