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Four Teens Shot to Death Before Fire Guts Store

December 8, 1991

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The bodies of four teen-age girls were found in a yogurt store, each shot in the head and badly burned from a fire in the building, police said.

The bodies were discovered shortly after midnight Saturday by firefighters who extinguished the blaze. Police said robbery may have been a motive for the slayings and fire, but they had no suspects.

The victims, all from Austin, were identified as Jennifer Harbison, 14; her sister, Sarah Harbison, 15; Eliza Thomas, 17; and Amy Ayres, 13. Officials said Jennifer Harbison and Miss Thomas were store employees and Miss Ayres was their friend.

Autopsies were being conducted. Authorities didn’t say if the girls died from the gunshot wounds or the fire.

″Based on preliminary investigative work, robbery is being considered as a possible motive for the killings,″ police said in a statement.

Homicide detective John Jones said whoever did it may have been ″high on drugs,″ though he provided no evidence of that.

″I certainly hope so, because it doesn’t look like the act of a sane, rational individual,″ he told KLBJ radio.

A police officer on patrol late Friday night noticed the flames at the I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt store. About 50 firefighters responded, and the girls’ bodies were discovered near the back door to the store.

″We are shocked, saddened and outraged at this bizarre incident,″ said Patty Reupke, director of marketing for the yogurt store chain.

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