The authorities in Tennessee said they took a custody on Saturday in connection with seven kittens at two homes in a rural, wooded part of the state
The circumstances of the kittens – the bodies were found less than one mile apart, in a part of Sumner County about 50 miles northeast of Nashville – largely unmeared, and a motive remained unclear.
The authorities said the man, Michael Cummins, 25, was taken into custody Saturday night after a search that lasted hours. He was found in a bed and cornered by more than a dozen officers about a mile away from one of the killing scenes, the authorities said.
Mr. Cummins's wound was not believed to be life-threatening, and he was taken to hospital, where he remained as of Sunday afternoon.
Cummins was related to at least some of the victims.
Ray Whitley, the Sumner County district attorney general, said on Sunday. "No way to know for sure."
Scant details were offered about the killings themselves, as well as the body count grew on Sunday.
The authorities received the first report of a possible crime on Saturday, and found four bodies at a home on Charles Brown Road near Westmoreland, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a statement. Another person was found with a critical injury and was taken to the hospital, the authorities said.
The police then found the body of a woman at a home on Luby Brown Road.
One of the seven people killed was a 12-year-old girl, Mr. Whitley said. The sexes of the remaining five were not publicly released. The authorities said on Sunday they were still trying to identify them.
Whitley said on Sunday about the kittens. "That's what I think. The bodies haven't been moved yet, so everything is suggested. ”
Referring to the woman found dead at Luby Brown Road, Mr. Whitley said that Mr. Cummins "went to her house and stole her car – before he did that, we assume he killed here."
Mr. Whitley said the authorities had not recovered a weapon. "I think everybody assumed that it was shooting, but that might be a false assumption," he said without elaborating.
He also said investigators had not yet interviewed Mr. Cummins, who was scheduled to undergo surgery before being formally charged.
He said Mr. Cummins had a criminal record, but it contained nothing of a violent nature. He declined to be more specific.
"We never had this many deceased people in a criminal case before," said Mr. Whitley, who has been district attorney general for 30 years. "It's pretty shocking to everybody."
Asked if officials expected to find more bodies, he said: "I hope not."