Authorities say six people, including a child, were killed at a campsite in Anderson County, Tex., over the weekend. William Hudson, who lives near the property, has been arrested and charged with the murder. (Reuters)

It was supposed to be a vacation spot — undeveloped land in rural Texas that could be used for camping and hunting in a part of America where roads have numbers, not names. But now, the owner of a newly purchased campsite and five other people, including a 6-year-old boy, have been killed, and a neighbor has been charged in one of the slayings after an intended victim survived to tell the tale.

It’s not clear why William Hudson, a 33-year man living in an unincorporated part of Texas about 100 miles southeast of Dallas called Tennessee Colony, allegedly took the life of at least one of a group of two out-of-town families who appeared to be enjoying new land for the first time. It’s also not clear who was killed, or how — some names and details were still unavailable. But after shots rang out early Sunday, the body count quickly mounted.

“This is the largest [homicide] I’ve seen in Anderson County,” Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor said, as CBS 19 reported.

Shots were first heard between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Nov. 15, as the Palestine Herald-Press reported. Around 7 a.m., police were called by Cynthia Johnson, a woman who survived the rampage and hid in the woods, only to be found alive later by the side of a road.

Authorities rushed to the scene, initially putting the number of dead at two — a man and a woman found dead in a trailer on the new property. Four males, including a child, were thought missing. However, police said they pulled those bodies from a pond behind Hudson’s house Monday afternoon, leaving police with an enormous crime scene and no immediate explanation for the carnage.

“The area of the crime is quite large,” Taylor said at a news conference as authorities prepared to investigate the campsite for the second day in a row. “It includes the area with the travel trailer to the land with the house and pond and another residence west of there. They are all in line with each other on that road.”

Among the victims — some from north Texas — were Cynthia Johnson’s husband, Carl; Thomas Kamp, who owned the property, and his girlfriend, Hannah Johnson, the daughter of Cynthia and Carl. Hannah’s Johnson’s son Kade was also among the dead. The other victims’ names were not released.

“A lot of them are family, kin to each other in various forms,” Sheriff Taylor said, as local TV station KYTX reported. “They are not from this area.”

Three of the victims: Carl Johnson, left, Thomas Kamp and Hannah Johnson.


Cynthia and Carl Johnson were former employees of the University of Maine at Farmington, as the Franklin Sun-Journal noted. They had retired to Texas to be closer to their daughter.

Hudson, who is not related to the victims and was previously arrested on an assault charge, was held on a $2.5 million bond. Police are not seeking any other assailants.

“We handled him for assault within the last few weeks,” Taylor said. “He was violent, but it wasn’t of this nature.”

“It’s just very scary and I’m just in disbelief that this could have happened so close,” Johnna Satterwhite, who lives near the scene, told CBS 19. “You just don’t ever think someone could do this to anybody else.”