"My message is to hold your loved ones close as possible," Phillip Ross's cousin Shelli Bunn said

By Harriet Sokmensuer
February 03, 2021 03:18 PM
Phillip Ross, Staci Lynn Smith, River and Piper Ross
Credit: Facebook

The Oklahoma man who fatally stabbed his girlfriend and their two young daughters before killing himself in an apparent murder-suicide has been identified.

According to Sand Spring police, Phillip Ross stabbed his girlfriend, Stacey Lynn Smith, and both of their young daughters, River, 4, and two-year-old Piper. Ross then killed himself, Police Capt. Todd Enzbrenner said at a news conference Monday.

The family's bodies were found by Ross' mother on Saturday, Enzbrenner said. She told police she was supposed to babysit her grandchildren but was unable to reach her son or Smith. When she went to the family's home, at the Sunburst Mobile Home Park, she discovered them dead inside.

Enzbrenner said Ross's mother was supposed to babysit the girls so that the couple could celebrate Smith's birthday.

Ross's family told KOTV they are in shock and are heartbroken.

"My message is to hold your loved ones close as possible," Ross's cousin Shelli Bunn said, the station reports. "Just let them know they're loved every day and let them be aware, and don't be afraid to talk to them."

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

While the medical examiner has not ruled an official cause of death, Enzbrenner said the victims appeared to have been stabbed and had suffered from "sharp force injuries." Several bloody knives were found in the home.

Enzbrenner called the scene "gruesome" and revealed Smith's body was found in the home's back bedroom while the bodies of Ross and his children were found in the front living room.

The last known contact with the family was around 7 p.m. on Friday. Witnesses told police at about 10:30 p.m. that night there was commotion coming from their home, which Enzbrenner described as "like furniture being thrown around."

Investigators believe the family was killed between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Ross had a history of domestic violence, Enzbrenner said, though he didn't provide specifics. However, Sand Spring police had not received calls from the family's residence prior to the murders. Authorities are awaiting a toxicology report from the medical examiner.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.