Police in Georgia have arrested a “lone suspect” wanted in a triple homicide at a golf course in Cobb County last week, reports said Friday.
The suspect, Bryan Anthony Rhoden, 23, of Atlanta, was arrested by members of the Southeast Fugitive Task Force in Chamblee at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, according to the U.S. Marshals Office.
Reports said that Rhoden was asked by investigators to come to a police station on other charges and was taken into custody after he arrived.
He was wanted in the murders of three people who were discovered last Saturday at the tenth hole of the golf course at Pinetree Country Club. Reports said two bodies were found in the bed of a Dodge pickup belonging to one of the victims that was stuck on an embankment near the tenth hole.
Cobb County Police Chief Tim Cox told reporters during a press conference Thursday evening that Rhoden was charged with three counts of homicide, three counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of kidnapping. Cox said that more charges were possible once investigators were finished questioning the suspect.
(Video: Fox5 Atlanta)
According to Fox5, Gene Siller, a golf pro at the country club, was found shot to death on the tenth green. Meanwhile, two other victims — Henry Valdez, 46, of California, and Paul Pierson, 76, of Kansas — were found lying in the bed of a white Dodge Ram 3500 pickup that was high-centered on the bank of a sand trap near the green. Police later found that Pierson owned the truck.
Police say they don’t believe Siller was targeted initially by the suspect but that Rhoden allegedly shot and killed him after he witnessed the other two murders.
“We definitely feel confident there was no relationship between the shooter and Mr. Siller,” Chief Cox told reporters, though he said his investigators were still trying to figure out the link between Rhoden and the two other victims.
Police further noted that Rhoden was likely driving the truck and ran away on foot after high-centering the vehicle and shooting Siller.
There have not been many additional details released as of yet about the murders, such as what led to them. Chief Cox indicated that there won’t be many new details to report for some time to come.
“As this remains an active case and investigation, we will be limited on the amount of information or details we can release,” he told reporters. “But with the suspect in custody, our investigation will continue to work the case to its completion and move it forward to the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.”
He also did not say what led cops to Rhoden in the first place, but he did indicate that the suspect’s name came up within a few days after the bodies were discovered.
Earlier, Cobb County Police said that Pinewood itself, as well as the surrounding community, weren’t under any imminent threat, however, that didn’t comfort many local residents, as some opted to keep doors locked and businesses closed until investigators provided them with additional information or that an arrest had been made.
“I realize some members of the community felt some frustration, they felt like they had limited information and I can respect that feeling,” said Cox.
“From the perspective that I’m at, I knew we had a mission to come to a successful conclusion to this and provide a form of justice to the Siller family,” he added. “And the successful arrest and prosecution was our highest priority and that’s what we were focusing on.”
DeKalb County Jail records show that Rhoden was initially arrested by Chamblee police for DUI, providing officers with a fake ID, and additional moving violation charges within hours after the murders. He was booked into the jail early Sunday and was released two days later after posting bond, according to records.
“At this point, I don’t want to discuss what all we knew at that point, because like I said, the investigation is still continuing, and we’re actually involved at this moment with discussions,” Cox told reporters.
He also did not talk about whether Rhoden had a prior criminal record.
Chad Phillips, the director of golf instruction at the course who witnessed Siller’s murder from a distance, said he was the kind of man who would help anyone and was likely trying to do that when he was killed.
“That’s what made him a great golf pro along with a great man,” Phillips told Fox5 in a separate report. “When it was unfolding it was a lot of confusion, I saw the truck and unfortunately witnessed what happened at the time. At the time, didn’t really know what I was witnessing.”
Police said Siller was killed as he approached the white Dodge pickup after it became stuck at the tenth hole.
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