Officials have launched a national search for the homeowner of an Idaho property where the dead bodies of three unidentified women — all gunshot victims — were found decomposing in a storage shed earlier this week.
The owner of the shed, 60-year-old Gerald Michael Bullinger, is a person of interest in their alleged murders, officials with the Canyon County, Idaho, Sheriff’s Office announced at a news conference on Wednesday.
The women were believed to have been killed nearly two weeks ago. They were each shot once.
As the manhunt continues, authorities are left with several unanswered questions, including who the victims are, their relationship to Bullinger, and what may have motivated their slayings.
Investigators hope Bullinger, who was last seen in Ogden, Utah, 11 days ago (around the time the women died), can answer these questions. A warrant has been issued for his arrest for failing to report the three deaths on the property, authorities said Wednesday.
Bullinger had recently moved from Utah to the farmhouse property with his wife, 57-year-old Cheryl Baker, who is also missing, her family told the Idaho Statesman.
She has not been heard from since she apparently sent a friend a text, her brother told the Statesman. It read, “Take care of my dogs. I don’t know if I’m coming back.”
It is unclear if one of the bodies belongs to Baker. Last month, the couple purchased the property, in Caldwell, Idaho, that included their new home and the shed. A sheriff official tells PEOPLE the couple appeared to be in the middle of moving to the home at the time of Bullinger’s disappearance and the three homicides.
On Monday, the bodies were located by a sheriff’s deputy who was responding to the home after Bullinger and Baker’s family called asking for a welfare check. According to the sheriff’s office, relatives had reportedly not heard from the couple for a few days and were worried.
Upon arrival, a deputy noticed signs that something was wrong and began to look around the property, authorities said. While inspecting the shed there, the deputy discovered the badly decomposed bodies, which were laid side-by-side and kept hidden under a cover.
Also found on the property were animal remains, including several dead birds and a dogs, believed by officials to be family pets.
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Autopsies conducted Tuesday determined the bodies belonged to three women, ranging in the age from mid-teens to late 50s, which matched the age and statures of people believed to have been recently living at the home, investigators said at the news conference Wednesday. Their exact connection to Bullinger is unclear. However, officials say their stature resemble that of the homeowner’s family.
Investigators are using DNA and other forensic evidence to identify the bodies.
A neighbor allegedly heard a gunshot about 10 days ago, the Associated Press reports. The neighbor said she also heard what she believed to be a woman screaming early in the morning sometime between June 6 and June 10. She did not call police.
“I just don’t know what to believe,” Baker’s brother, Bryon Baker, told the Statesman. “There are four people involved here. Three bodies — and someone who covered the bodies.”
Authorities say Bullinger is likely driving a white 2007 Ford Focus with the Utah license plate 129UMP. He is about 6 feet 1 inches tall and weighs an estimated 240 lbs., with gray hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information about him, his location or the case is urged to call the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office at 208-454-7531.