3 arrested, charged in killing of 3 friends who were on fishing trip in Florida

3 arrested in killing of 3 friends who were on fishing trip in Florida

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Authorities have arrested three people on charges connected to the killing of three friends who were visiting a Florida lake last week for a fishing trip, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

The sheriff said Wednesday that 26-year-old Tony “TJ” Wiggins, his girlfriend, 27-year-old Mary Whittemore and his brother, 21-year-old William “Robert” Wiggins have been arrested and charged with various crimes connected to the July 17 killings of Damion Tillman, 23, Brandon Rollins, 27, and Keven Springfield, 30.

Deputies said they identified the suspects after finding a Dollar General receipt at the scene of the crime dated on the night of the killing. Surveillance footage from the store showed Tillman had made a purchase from the shop. A clerk at the store told deputies Tillman was a regular customer and that he said on the night of his death that he planned to go fishing with Springfield.

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Deputies said the suspects were also seen on surveillance footage. The Dollar General clerk told authorities that they heard Tillman share his plans to fish.

Ten minutes after that trip, Judd said Tillman and his friends were shot and dying, WFTV reported.

Authorities said they found guns and ammunition while executing a search warrant Monday on a trailer in Lake Wales, Florida, where TJ Wiggins and Whittmore live. Testing subsequently determined that the ammunition matched shell casings found at the scene.

Investigators said neither TJ Wiggins nor Wittemore were cooperating with investigators as of Thursday.

Officials charged TJ Wiggins with first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. Authorities said that TJ Wiggin has previously faced 230 felony charges dating back to age 12, WFTV reported. He has 15 felony convictions on his record and has twice served sentence in state prison.

“He’s a thug. He’s a criminal. He’s pure evil in the flesh,” Judd told reporters Wednesday, according to WFTV. “He’s wild and he’s out of control.”

Deputies charged Robert Wiggins with tampering with evidence and being an accessory after the fact of a capital felony. Whittemore has been charged with being an accessory after the fact of a capital felony.

All three suspects are expected to appear in court Thursday afternoon for first appearance hearings.