Three Jacksonville men have been charged with capital murder in connection with the deaths of four people Tuesday in Cherokee County.
On Wednesday, Cherokee County Sheriff Brent Dickson said during a news conference that Jesse Pawlowski, 20; Billy Phillips, 37; and Dylan Welch, 21; are jailed accused of killing two men and two women Tuesday morning at a residence north of New Summerfield.
The trio were held Wednesday in the Cherokee County Jail on bonds of $1 million each.
Dickson also identified the four victims as John Clinton, 18; Jeff Gerla, 47; Ami Hickey, 39; and Amanda Bain, 39.
Clinton’s body was in the driveway at the property, while the other three were found at a residence in the back of the land.
Dickson said the shooting was a result of a robbery that the three suspects intended to commit. He added the sheriff’s office believes the suspects met with Clinton before shooting him and then going into the home.
“I believe the robbery was planned and the murder was spontaneous. Our citizens are definitely safe now that these individuals are off the streets,” Dickson said. “We’re going to do everything we can to keep them safe.”
The sheriff called the quadruple homicide a “senseless killing.”
Dickson said Hickey and Clinton were mother and son. Gerla and Clinton were in a dating relationship, and Hickey and Bain also were dating.
On Tuesday afternoon, investigators were searching for a vehicle stolen from the property.
Dickson said Wednesday that a tip from the public led investigators to a residence Tuesday in Jacksonville to find three people . Two of the people left in a vehicle and were taken into custody on unrelated charges during a traffic stop.
The U.S. Marshals Service and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office special investigations unit then went to the home and arrested a third person at that residence, Dickson said.
Interviews with Pawlowski, Phillips and Welch led to search warrants for another Jacksonville residence.
“At that location, the vehicle that was stolen from the crime scene was located along with a handgun we believe that was used to commit the homicide,” Dickson said.
The sheriff’s office then received a search warrant for a residence at the Castle on the Lake RV Park in Jacksonville. At that location, more property from the crime scene, including clothing and firearms, was found.
Pawlowski confessed to his involvement in the shootings, Dickson said. Pawlowski and Phillips have criminal histories and are friends, while Welch was described as their associate, he added. All three in custody are suspected drug users.
The three suspects took one vehicle to the residence where the shooting occurred and left the property in their vehicle and the stolen one, Dickson said.
A woman who lives in the front residence made a 911 call after seeing a dead body in her driveway. Dickson said her home was not targeted, and she is believed to be the mother of one of the victims.