BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) - Family members prepared Saturday to bury
seven people killed in a mobile home park massacre in southeast Georgia, while also grappling with the shocking news that one of their own relatives had been charged in the slayings.
Police arrested Guy Heinze Jr., 22, late Friday in the killings that included his own father. Heinze reported the gruesome scene to
authorities in a chilling 911 call, frantically telling a dispatcher "My whole family's dead" after returning home from a night out to the mobile home where he lived with his father and other relatives.
After a week working a case so murky they could not say whether a killer was on the loose, police said Heinze was responsible and charged him with eight counts of first-degree murder. Among the dead were seven of his relatives, plus a boyfriend of one of Heinze's cousins.
Joseph L. West, the eighth victim, had enlisted Heinze a few times to help work on his family's shrimp boat, said Otis West, the slain man's brother. He said he didn't know Heinze well, but he seemed like "a good guy."
"To tell the truth, if you had ever been around him, he didn't seem like anybody who would do something like this," West said Saturday. "But you never know."
A friend who went to high school with Heinze in Brunswick said he kept to himself and never grasped for friends, but that he was always nice and respectful. Ashley Strickland said she wanted police to reveal the evidence against Heinze because she doesn't believe he is responsible for the killings.
"As far as I know, they've always been a very tight-knit family. They've had their fights but they've always made up," she said.
As family members mourned the deaths and prepared to bury their loved ones together at a graveside service, Heinze sat in the Glynn County jail.
"It floored them," family spokesman Clint Rowe said of the arrest. "He was part of the family."
Heinze was among 10 people living in the 980-square-foot home that his uncle, Rusty Toler Sr., rented for $405 a month.
Gail Montgomery, who manages the New Hope Plantation mobile home
park, said Toler had taken in Heinze, his father and other relatives because they'd fallen on hard times and couldn't find work.
"They did not deserve what happened to them," Montgomery said. "If he did this, I hope he gets what he deserves."
Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said two new pieces of information led authorities to charge Heinze late Friday.
He would not say what that information was or how the victims died last weekend at a mobile home park a few miles north of Brunswick, a port city midway between Savannah and Jacksonville, Fla.
The chief also declined to say whether police believe Heinze acted alone.
"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, who insists revealing details about the slayings could jeopardize the investigation, said he wasn't sure Heinze was responsible for the deaths until late Friday afternoon.
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 trunk of his car. He told police he thought the gun was stolen.
Police had said they didn't suspect him in the killings, and he was released on bond on the lesser charges for about two hours Friday before he was charged with murder and returned to the county jail.
A phone message left for Heinze Jr.'s attorney, Ron Harrison, was not immediately returned. Harrison said earlier this week that Heinze denied any part in the slayings.
In the call to emergency dispatchers early Aug. 29, Heinze said it appeared the victims had been beaten to death.
At one point he returned to the mobile home to find his cousin Michael Toler, whom he said had Down syndrome, barely breathing.
"Michael's alive, tell them to hurry!" Heinze yelled in the background as a maintenance man at the mobile home park spoke with a dispatcher. "He's beat up! His face is smashed in!"
Strickland, Heinze's high school friend, said he was close to Michael.
"He always took care of him and always stood up for him when people made fun of him," she said.
Toler died later at a hospital. The seven other victims were found dead at the scene. The sole survivor was 3-year-old Byron Jimerson Jr., the son of one of one of the slain women. He was critically injured and remained hospitalized.
Heinze was also charged with attempted murder in the attack on the boy.
The dead included the suspect's father, Guy Heinze Sr., 45; his uncle, Toler Sr., 44; and his aunt, Brenda Gail Falagan, 49. Also slain were Toler Sr.'s four children - Chrissy Toler, 22; Russell D. Toler Jr., 20; Michael Toler, 19; and Michelle Toler, 15.
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