Frostproof, Fla. – A 26-year-old man is behind bars on 230 serious charges in his name and the sheriff accused of brutally killing three fishing friends in Frostproof announced Wednesday. Two more suspects were arrested, and officials said they were concerned about whether one of the victims had sold the suspect’s truck.
On Wednesday morning, Sheriff Grady Jude announced that Damien Tillman, 23, Kevin Springfield, 30, and Brandon Rollins, 27, had been arrested in connection with Friday night’s murder.
The suspects were identified as 26-year-old Tony “TJ” Wiggins, his girlfriend Mary Whitmore, 27, and his brother, 21-year-old Robert Wiggins.
Judd said TJ alone has brought 230 heinous charges in his criminal history, and has been consistently arrested since he was 12 years old.
“I did not stutter. There are 230 charges against him in the history of arrests. “He’s a thug, he’s a criminal. He’s pure evil in the flesh. He’s wild and he’s out of control.”
Robert was arrested for a felony before the triple murder, and no perpetrators were arrested before Mary.
Investigators said Damien was with the nearby Dollar General before meeting Kevin and Brandon in Lemon Stratia, ten minutes before the murder on Friday night. Detectives say Damien told the clerk he was meeting with Kevin to go fishing.
A plastic dollar general bag was found in a truck belonging to the victim, along with a receipt from that date, which the detectives took to the store. There, Jude said detectives spoke with Clark, who said the suspects were in the store, and heard Damien say he was going fishing. According to the clerk, they knew Kevin would be there.
The sheriff said his brother, who was driving that night, instructed him to go to Lake TJ.
Judge explained that Robert was in the truck when TJ came out and confronted Kevin. TJ punches Kevin and accuses him of stealing his truck and selling the engine. However, at the time of the investigation, Jud said, detectives have not yet confirmed whether the allegations are true.
Detectives said Robert confirmed that TJ shot three victims and then asked him for help in placing Damien in one of the two trucks.
Robert, TJ and Mary moved to McDonald’s, where they ordered 10 double pizzarburgers and two McChicken sandwiches, the sheriff said.
Jude said Mary quickly became a collaborator during the investigation and was not willing to give detectives the correct spelling of her last name. The sheriff said the only part of the three suspects’ information was their McDonald’s order that night, otherwise, everything was out of place in their stories, the sheriff said.
Detectives received surveillance video from Dollar General and the suspects were seen talking to Damien. They served a search warrant on a piece of land on Server Avenue in Lake Wales on Monday. Jude said the three suspects were living in a travel trailer without any running water or electricity.
At the property, detectives found weapons and ammunition with a 9mm shell casing. TJ was arrested for possessing a gun as a convicted felon. Later, officers matched the casing with one found at the scene.
Jude said after the shooting, Damien asked his father for help. His father had just fled to Strait Lake to save his son and his two friends.
“Our goal, and we pray, is that our state’s attorney may seek the death penalty,” the sheriff said. “He needs a fair trial … and then the death penalty should be carried out. Legally, we can’t do it the way these three guys tried to fish on Friday night. “
Judd praised Frostproof and the surrounding community. Over the weekend the sheriff’s office announced a ,000 30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest. She said the call center was overwhelmed with tips and requested additional help to manage the workload.
“But the local tips that were filtered, there were hundreds of people coming in, the main information is to show TJ from Frostproof,” Judd said. “It’s not like they had any idea he did it. He’s just evil
In fact, the sheriff said, they received tips from people as far as Tennessee and interested in sending extra money for the prize.
“This is the United States, this is the state of Florida and the community I know and love,” Judd said.
Judd said TJ came on bond to break a man’s hand with a crowbar and is on trial for separate offenses. The sheriff said the killings were usually the result of drugs, alcohol, money or domestic incidents – but no evidence was found before the killings.
TJ faces three men on first-degree murder charges. Robert and Mary face a count spread with three assistants and evidence for a murder
Jad said additional charges could come as he faces more evidence in the forensic lab.