The Latest news and analysis on the fatal shooting of an elderly Florida churchgoer by a man who had recently been convicted of murder and domestic violence.
JOSEPH’S CHURCHES, Fla.
— A man who fatally shot and killed an elderly churchgoing couple at a church in Florida was in custody and on his way to be tried as an accessory to murder after prosecutors said they found a handwritten note on his body that warned the churchgoers they could be next, authorities said on Friday.
Investigators found handwritten notes by an inmate in the Florida Department of Corrections, where the former corrections officer is serving a life sentence for the 2008 slaying of his wife, who was stabbed multiple times, to his wife’s family members in a letter in her hand, said St. Johns Parish Sheriff Richard Jones.
The note, which the inmate’s attorney has said was written in an inmate’s handwriting and dated April 11, was sent to a woman, identified as Ms. Marie, whose son wrote in it, Jones said.
The letter warned, among other things, that the woman’s son was coming to kill her and would kill anyone who was there to protect her.
Jones did not give further details about the note.
St. Johns’ police chief, David McRae, said the inmate was arrested Thursday on the murder charge.
Police said the woman was in her 80s and was the only person known to be in the church at the time of the shooting, according to the Associated Press.
She was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead, authorities added.
Authorities have not said whether the man had a history of mental illness, but McRabe said the note was “very clear in the nature of it.”
“This is not a case where someone has made a conscious decision to do something horrible,” he said.
A manhunt was under way for the manhunt for the other man, identified by police as David Allen Harris, 31, who has been on a wanted list for the past two years for allegedly stalking, killing, and sexually assaulting two women.
“He was a predator,” Jones said of Harris.
McRae said that Harris was in the parish for about 10 years and had been serving his life sentence at the St. Augustine Correctional Institution in St. Lucie County.
He said he could not confirm if Harris had any children or had a partner.
It was not immediately clear how the inmates connection to Harris could be determined.
An attorney for Harris did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.