Three individuals have been arrested in connection with the grisly slaying of three best friends on a night fishing trip over the weekend—and Florida authorities allege the suspects went to McDonald’s after the crime spurred by accusations of truck theft.
Tony “TJ” Wiggins, 26, his girlfriend, Mary Whittemore, 27, and his brother William “Robert” Wiggins, 21, were arrested Wednesday in connection with a Friday triple murder at a remote lake in Frostproof, Florida, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Authorities say the younger Wiggins admitted that his older brother fatally shot Brandon Rollins, 27, Keven Springfield, 30, and Damion Tillman, 23, after accusing one of the friends of “stealing his truck.”
“[Tony’s] a thug, he’s a criminal. He’s pure evil in the flesh. He’s wild and he’s out of control,” Judd said about the elder Wiggins, noting that he has “230 charges in his arrest history” and has been to state prison twice. “Our goal and we pray our state attorney can seek the death penalty. [Tony] needs to seek a fair trial… and then be executed. Legally, we can’t execute him the way he did those three guys trying to fish on a Friday night.”
Wiggins has been charged with first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. Robert Wiggins and Mary Whittemore have been charged with three counts of accessory to murder and tampering with evidence.
“I’ve been through a lot of murder scenes in my life, and this ranks among the worst I’ve been to,” Judd said.
Authorities say the incident began Friday night when Tillman stopped by a Dollar General store before meeting his friends nearby to go night fishing for catfish. The Dollar General store clerk told detectives that the three suspects had been in the store at the same time, and were also seen in CCTV footage.
“The clerk told detectives that the suspects heard Damion say he was going fishing, and that Keven would be with him, as the clerk listened to all of them talk to each other about it,” authorities said in a press release.
During a police interview after his arrest, William Wiggins admitted to seeing Tillman at the convenience store with his brother Tony. When they left the store, he said his brother directed him to “turn on a particular road, instead of going home.” He said two trucks, with the three victims inside, passed them—prompting Tony to demand William “make a U-turn and follow the trucks.”
The younger Wiggins said that he followed the three best friends to Lake Streety Road before his brother got out of the car and confronted Springfield and began to punch him for “stealing his truck.” Judd said Wednesday that investigators have yet to confirm whether the theft accusation is true.
Rollins and Tillman then got out of their truck to help their friend while Tony continued to scream at the three of them, the younger Wiggins said. During the altercation, “TJ shot all three victims” before asking his brother “to help him put Damion into the back of one of the trucks.”
“After the brutal killings, the three suspects drove to McDonald’s, where they ordered 10 double cheeseburgers, and two McChicken sandwiches,” authorities said. “They went home to eat.”
Rollins managed to call his father to ask for help. When his father arrived at the remote lake about 10 minutes later, his son was barely alive and the pair were able to have a brief final conversation. When first responders arrived, all three were dead.
“When I got there I was looking for my son. It was a mess. I found my son. I was holding him. He was telling me what happened, but I was too shocked to know what was going on,” the father, Cyril Rollins, told WFLA-TV.
The next morning, the 21-year-old Wiggins told authorities he “took his truck to a car wash in Lake Wales and washed the clay” from the remote dirt road to remove evidence.
Authorities said that during a search of the crime scene, detectives found a Dollar General bag received on the night of the incident allowing them to work their way back to learn that Tillman and his accused murderers had been at the store. On Monday, detectives served a search warrant on a piece of land on Sarver Avenue where the three suspects lived in a trailer with no running water or electricity.
At the property, investigators found “two SKS rifles, two Mossberg shotguns, and ammunition for both in a gun safe belonging to TJ Wiggins.” They also found ammunition that matched shell casings found at the lake in Frostproof. Detectives said all three suspects were “contradicting each other” in interviews with police, and had inconsistent stories.
“Whittemore admitted to purchasing the ammunition, and to being with the brothers on the night of the murder. She did not make any additional statements,” authorities said, noting that she and her boyfriend were no longer cooperating with detectives. “The Wiggins brothers’ statements were inconsistent.”
Judd added Wednesday that at the time of the murders, Tony Wiggins was out of bond for breaking a man’s arm with a crowbar and was waiting to go to trial on separate felony charges. He said additional charges could be filed against the trio.