FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The children were found face down on a bed. The woman was kneeling beside it.
All four were dead of “significant injuries to their necks” from being “inflicted with a sharp object.”
Details released in a probable cause affidavit Thursday described a scene in a home at 2904 Gay St. that Fort Wayne Police labeled “gruesome” a day before.
Cohen B. Hancz-Barron, 21, is being held in the Allen County Jail on four preliminary counts of murder, accused of killing his girlfriend and three children inside the southeast-side home before dawn Wednesday.
According to the affidavit, police arrived at the home around 10:45 a.m. and were met by a man and woman yelling, “He killed them, they’re dead.”
Inside the home, police found a woman – Sarah Zent – and three children dead. Zent was kneeling by a bed in a downstairs bedroom, the affidavit said, and the children were face down on the same bed.
“All of the victims had significant injuries to their necks consistent with having been inflicted with a sharp object,” the affidavit said. Medics pronounced them dead.
On Thursday, the Allen County Coroner’s Office identified the young victims as 5-year-old Carter Mathew Zent, 3-year-old Ashton Duwayne Zent, and 2-year-old Aubree Christine Zent.
Autopsies found the children each died of multiple stab wounds and their deaths were ruled homicides.
Sarah Nicole Zent, 26, died of strangulation and multiple stab wounds and her death was also ruled a homicide.
Detectives reviewed video surveillance from cameras at nearby Whitney Young School. The video showed lights on in the home between 4:22 a.m. and 5:22-5:42 a.m. After that, the video showed a Ford pickup drive off.
A witness told police he gave Zent permission to use his truck anytime she needed it, and Hancz-Barron took it without permission, the affidavit said.
Detectives then spoke with Hancz-Barron’s mother, who said she hadn’t spoken with her son in two years but he randomly called her at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday to wish her a happy birthday, the affidavit said. The woman said Hancz-Barron then showed up at her home in Fort Wayne around 6:15 a.m. “talking and acting crazy” and claiming to be shot in the stomach, the affidavit said. He reportedly asked for money and duct tape.
A short time later, video surveillance showed a black pickup pull up behind the home of Hancz-Barron’s step-mother, the affidavit said.
Detectives used “digital intelligence” to track Hancz-Barron to a Lafayette apartment complex. There, police served a search warrant and took him into custody.
Hancz-Barron was found with a knife with an apparent blood stain on the blade, the affidavit said. The Ford pickup was found outside.
According to the affidavit, while he was in Lafayette, Hancz-Barron called his step-mother and admitted he was at the Gay Street home Wednesday morning and said he needed a lawyer. He told the woman to “look at Facebook to see what he had done,” the affidavit said.
As he was being transported back to Fort Wayne, Hancz-Barron asked police: “Will I do my time for this case before the time I had on my other case?” Hancz-Barron is facing a probation violation out of Starke County.
Police noted in the affidavit that Hancz-Barron had cuts and scratches on his neck, jaw, and wrist. Some were consistent with finger nail scratches, the affidavit said.
Hancz-Barron then asked for an attorney.
In Hancz-Barron’s wallet, police found a Visa card belonging to Zent.