BRUNSWICK, Ga. – The eight people slain in a weekend mobile home attack in this southeastern coastal city included a father and four older children and other members of an extended family, police and relatives said Tuesday.
Police released the names and ages of the dead in a short statement three days after the carnage was first reported in a frantic emergency call by a relative who discovered the bodies on returning home. No suspect has been named in the Saturday killings that have rocked this Atlantic port city between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida.
The dead included Russell D. Toler Sr., 44, and his four children: Chrissy Toler, 22; Russell D. Toler Jr., 20; Michael Toler, 19; and Michelle Toler, 15. Police did not characterized their relationship, but a relative by marriage and an acquaintance confirmed it to The Associated Press.
Guy Heinze Jr., who first reported the deaths in an emergency call released Monday, told the operator he had just found his father, Guy Heinze Sr., 45, his uncle and several cousins apparently beaten to death. His uncle is believed to be Toler Sr.
Several hours after the call, police arrested Heinze Jr. on charges of drug possession, tampering with evidence and lying to a police officer. Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said he isn't calling Heinze a suspect in the killings, nor is he ruling him out.
Also killed in the attack were Brenda Gail Falagan, 49, and Joseph L. West, 30. Their connections to the family were not immediately known.
Mark Hill was once married to Toler Sr.'s ex-wife and stepfather to their four children — Chrissy, Russell Jr., Michael and Michelle.
"They were good kids, well mannered, well behaved," Hill said in an interview before the names were released. "Every one of them were good kids."
Hill said he and the mother of the children divorced about eight years ago and he had not seen them in several years.
An acquaintance of Toler Sr., Sam Davis, said Toler and his children used to stop in at the convenience store where Davis worked when the family lived in nearby Townsend.
"He was just a nice guy. Quiet, humble. He'd do anything for anybody in the world," Davis said, adding Toler Sr. was always buying snacks and drinks for his children. "He looked like he loved his kids. I'd see him stop by with them going on fishing trips."
Police have not released many details of the case, saying they don't want to jeopardize the investigation. They have not confirmed the cause of death, and have not identified a suspect in the attack. Autopsies were completed Monday.
The 12-minute emergency call by Heinze Jr. has provided some of the only details about the crime that Doering, the police chief, has called the worst murder case in his 25 years on the job.
On the call, Heinze Jr. screamed, "My whole family's dead!" The 22-year-old struggled to describe what he saw, and at one point returned to the mobile home to find his cousin Michael, whom he says has Down syndrome, barely breathing.
"Michael's alive, tell them to hurry!" Heinze Jr. is heard yelling in the background as a maintenance man at the mobile home park spoke with the dispatcher. "He's beat up! His face is smashed in!"
Michael Toler died Sunday at a Savannah hospital. The sole survivor, whose age and name has not been released, remains in critical condition.
Heinze Jr.'s first court appearance was set for Wednesday. His attorney, Ron Harrison, said Heinze Jr. was not involved in the killings and was "deeply saddened, very distraught."
The killings have the community on edge, and some have been critical of the lack of information being released by police. Others have been supportive.
Thomas Joiner, who has lived in the area since 1955, said he didn't fault the chief for withholding information. But he said the uncertainty over whether a violent killer was on the loose is tough to take and he's not taking chances.
"I am being very vigilant," he said, adding that he has a pit bull as a guard dog, keeps his shotgun handy and, since Saturday, has started locking his doors at all times, something he never felt the need to do.