A man who made a frantic call to US police to tell them he had found his whole family slaughtered in their mobile home was yesterday charged with their deaths.
Guy Heinze Jr, 22, was arrested on Friday on eight counts of first-degree murder over the killings last weekend at a mobile home park a few miles north of Brunswick, a port city midway between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida. Among those killed were seven of Heinze's relatives.
Glynn County police chief Matt Doering would not say what evidence led police to charge Heinze.
He was returned to the county jail less than two hours after his release on bond on lesser charges. Doering also declined to say whether police think Heinze acted alone or with others.
"Right now, I don't know," Doering said. "I do know he's involved. I would have not allowed him to be arrested if I was not comfortable with that."
Doering said he wasn't sure Heinze was responsible for the deaths until early yesterday when two new pieces of evidence became available, but he wouldn't say what they were.
In the call to emergency dispatchers, Heinze said he'd come home to find the bodies and that it appeared the victims had been beaten to death. Seven were found dead at the scene, an eighth died in hospital, and the only survivor remained in hospital after being critically injured.
"It's the most heinous crime we've ever had in this community," said Doering.
Police haven't released causes of death for the victims. But Doering identified the lone survivor as three-year-old Byron Jimmerson, the son of one of the dead women.
Hours after the bodies were found, Heinze was charged with evidence tampering, lying to police and drug possession. The arrest warrant for the evidence tampering charge says Heinze admitted removing a shotgun from the home and trying to hide it from police in the boot of his car. He told police he thought the gun was stolen.
Heinze was arrested as family members gathered for a funeral home visit the night before all seven were to be buried.
The dead included the suspect's father, Guy Heinze sr, 45; his uncle, Rusty Toler, 44; his aunt Brenda Gail Falagan, 49; and Toler's four children, Chrissy, 22, Russell, 20, Michael, 19, and Michelle, 15. Chrissy's boyfriend, Joseph West, 30, was also killed but her three year-old son survived.
Clint Rowe, spokesman for the family, said it was "definitely a surprise".