Shotgun blasts and sirens shattered the peaceful atmosphere of the small village of Milan nearly 40 years ago.
On April 1, 1968, William Cassidy, 41, and his wife Ann, 37, were brutally murdered in their rural two-story farm home. The couple was shot in the head at close range with a 12-gauge shotgun while asleep in their bed. William died instantly. Ann was taken to the hospital where she died shortly thereafter.
Even more shocking, their 12-year-old daughter Patty was beaten severely with what detectives believe was the same shotgun used to murder her parents. She was taken to the hospital and died three days later, leaving no witnesses behind.
"I couldn't believe anything like that would happen," said Ted Crawford, 70, longtime resident and Milan Township Fire Chief. "This has always been a small, quiet community."
Ed Kaczor, 62, born and raised in Milan, was 23 when he heard the news.
"Everybody was shocked," he said, remembering that day.
The slain family was discovered at about 4 a.m. by their 17-year-old son Michael. Then a senior at Milan High School, Michael told investigators he came home after work and found the massacre. A coroner determined the Cassidys were killed about 30 minutes prior to his arrival.
"The whole neighborhood was shocked when this all happened ... a farm community like we were," said Bob Reer, 69, Milan Township trustee and retired owner of Bob's Auto Wrecking in Milan. "We just couldn't figure out who could have done something like that."
After the triple homicide, a wave of fear spread through the community. Residents started locking their doors and purchased watch dogs.
Reer, who worked on cars for the Cassidys, said he knew something serious had happened that night when he heard sirens going off.
There were no signs of forced entry to the home and the only missing item was the family's own shotgun, leading investigators to believe their own weapon was used against them.
One spent shotgun shell was found near the kitchen door, but the murder weapon was never located. When deputies arrived, Truman Capote's book "In Cold Blood" was laying on the coffee table.
"There was such an irony that book was on the table," said Capt. Paul Sigsworth of the Erie County Sheriff's office.
Capote's book, a popular read at the time, depicts convicts who savagely kill a family, making note to "leave no witnesses" at the scene -- eerily similar to the Cassidy murder.
The whereabouts of Michael Cassidy are unknown. Some residents say he moved out of state and was never heard from again.