The man who called 911 to report finding seven people slain in a dingy mobile home on a historic Georgia plantation was arrested on drug-related charges, though police refused to say Sunday whether he was a suspect in the killings.
Two people survived the attack with brutal injuries. Georgia police are investigating the killings as a murder-suicide involving multiple members of the same family, a law enforcement source told the Florida Times-Union.
Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering called the grisly murder scene “horrific,” the paper reported, but police have not detailed what they found at the mobile home nestled among centuries-old, moss-draped oak trees in coastal southeast Georgia.
“It’s not a scene that I would want anybody to see,” Doerring said, describing it as the worst mass murder he’s seen in 25 years of police work.
Guy Heinze Jr., 22, a relative of those found killed, was arrested late Saturday and charged with illegal possession of prescription drugs and marijuana, tampering with evidence and making false statements to police, Doering said. Doering did not know whether he had an attorney.
Autopsies were scheduled Sunday on the bodies of the seven victims, most of whom were related to Rusty Toler, a poor resident of the trailer park in Brunswick, Ga., a law enforcement source told the Times-Union.
Toler and three of his four children are among the dead, the paper reported. A fourth child is hospitalized in critical condition, a source with intimate ties to the family said.
Investigators were talking to neighbors about whether they saw or heard anything unusual at the dingy mobile home shaded by large, moss-draped oaks with an old boat in the front yard. Police had not interviewed the survivors, who remained in critical condition Saturday night and may be the only witnesses.
“I assume they know something, but we have not been able to speak to them,” the chief said.
All seven bodies were tentatively identified by Saturday evening. Doering said families of the victims had been notified, but he would not release any names or ages before receiving the autopsy results.
“I really don’t know the ages,” Doering said. “There were some older-aged victims and we believe there were some in their teens.”
Located a few miles north of the port city of Brunswick, the mobile home park consists of about 100 spaces and is nestled among centuries-old live oak trees near the center of New Hope Plantation, according to the plantation’s Web site.
The 1,100 acre tract is all that remains of a Crown grant made in 1763 to Henry Laurens, who later succeeded John Hancock as president of the Continental Congress in 1777.
Laurens obtained control of the South Altamaha river lands and named it New Hope Plantation, according to the plantation’s Web site.
Lisa Vizcaino, who has lived at New Hope for three years, said the management works hard to keep troublemakers out of the mobile home park and that it tends to be quiet.
“New Hope isn’t rundown or trashy at all,” Vizcaino said. “It’s the kind of place where you can actually leave your keys in the car and not worry about anything.”
Vizcaino said she didn’t know the victims and heard nothing unusual when she woke up at 7 a.m. Saturday morning. After word of the slayings spread, she said, the park was quieter than usual.
“Everybody had pretty much stayed in their houses,” Vizcaino said. “Normally you would see kids outside, but everybody’s been pretty much on lockdown.”