The suspects in the brutal murder of three friends on a fishing trip went to McDonald’s and ordered 10 double cheeseburgers immediately after the killings, says the local sheriff.
Three people have now been charged, with the sheriff saying the victims had been followed to a remote lake and allegedly shot multiple times by a man described as “pure evil”.
Tony “TJ” Wiggins – charged with first-degree murder – has 230 prior felony charges and is only 26-years-old, said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
“He’s a thug, he’s a criminal. He’s pure evil in the flesh. He’s wild and out of control,” he told reporters.
His brother, William “Robert” Wiggins, 21, and girlfriend Mary Whittemore have been charged with being an accessory to the killings.
They were all found on Monday, living “off grid” in trailers in the woods, with no running water or electricity.
The sheriff said the group had encountered one of the victims at a shop in Frostproof, a city about 58 miles east of Tampa, as he prepared to join his friends for night fishing.
He said alleged killer TJ Wiggins was behind Damion Tillman in the queue, with CCTV showing them chatting.
“From body language it wasn’t violent or animated – it was just a normal conservation,” said Sheriff Judd.
Mr Tillman headed to the lake to meet his friends – Keven Springfield and Brandon Rollins – with Wiggins following him out the store just before 10pm.
He’s said to have ordered his brother to drive to the remote spot after hearing Mr Springfield was part of the fishing trip.
Once there, Sheriff Judd said Wiggins pulled out a gun and punched the 30-year-old as he sat in his vehicle, after accusing him of “selling the engine out of my truck”.
Investigators say it is unclear whether there was an actual truck deal between the two men.
“He starts shooting Keven and Brandon inside of the white truck… it’s estimated nine to 10 times,” said Sheriff Judd.
“Then he turns on Damion and begins to shoot Damion – who’s got his door open – several times.”
The victims were discovered a short time later by Mr Rollins’s father after his son made a frantic call for help before he died.
He drove to the fishing spot about 10 minutes away and found his son still breathing.
However, he had forgotten his mobile phone and went to a nearby shop for help. By the time paramedics arrived at the lake, Mr Rollins had died.
After disposing of the gun, the sheriff told reporters on Wednesday that the group “immediately” went to McDonald’s, where they ordered “10 double cheeseburgers and two McChickens”.
The sheriff said: “They go through the drive-through, it’s very quiet, TJ simply says ‘we weren’t there’. And that’s all the conservation they will admit to.”
Sheriff Judd, who has worked at the department for 48 years, said the bloody aftermath of the killings was “a horrific scene”.
“I’ve been to a lot of murder scenes and this ranked among the worst I’ve been to,” he said.
The suspects are due in court for the first time on Thursday.