Tony TJ Wiggins, Robert Wiggins, Mary Whittemore, two brothers & girlfriend arrested in Florida fishing murders in Frostproof, Polk County of three best friends.
Tony ‘TJ’ Wiggins, 26, his girlfriend Mary Whittemore, 27, and his brother Robert Wiggins, 21, have each been charged over the deaths of Damion Tillman, 23; Keven Springfield, 30; and Brandon Rollins, 27, in Frostproof on Friday evening.
Among the leads that drew detectives to the suspects were hundreds of tips to the Heartland Crime Stoppers line.
”Look at T.J. Wiggins from Frostproof,’‘ Judd quoted some of the callers saying. ‘Not because they had any idea he did it, just because he’s mean.’
The tips also corroborated video surveillance of a nearby Dollar General outlet where the suspects had been earlier the evening of the murders, along with their victims.
‘Confronted over some kind of truck deal’
The victims were beaten and shot to death as they were heading to Lake Streety near Frostproof to go fishing, Judd said.
In a detailed account of what police believed happened, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said all three suspects are said to have followed their victims after overhearing their fishing plans from Tillman in a local Dollar General store Friday. TJ had wanted to confront Springfield over ‘some kind of truck deal’, Sheriff Judd said.
Just ten minutes after Tillman left the store Rollins called his dad for help. Robert Wiggins told detectives he watched as TJ, who was first arrested aged just 12, shot all three victims, police said.
But there’s more.
After the killings the three suspects are said to have headed to McDonalds, ordering 10 cheeseburgers and two McChicken sandwiches. The following day Robert took his truck to be cleaned.
Each of the victims were shot a number of times, police said, after TJ asked Keven: ‘Where’s my truck? You sold the engine out of my truck.’ Springfield is said to have replied: ‘I don’t know what you are talking about.’
All three arrested in connection with the deaths were found ‘living off the grid’ in two travel trailers on Monday, Sheriff Judd announced. Police say they found two SKS rifles, two Mossberg shotguns, and ammunition for both in a gun safe belonging to TJ Wiggins in one of the trailers.
‘TJ is someone whose criminal history should shock your conscience.’
TJ Wiggins has been charged with three counts of first degree murder; Robert Wiggins with three counts of accessory to murder and and tampering with evidence; Whittemore three counts of accessory to murder. Of note, the girlfriend had zero prior criminal history.
Sheriff Judd said of TJ Wiggins: ‘This is evil in the flesh.’ adding, ‘TJ is someone whose criminal history should shock your conscience. It does mine.’
Police said in a statement Wednesday: ‘During a search of the crime scene, detectives found a Dollar General bag and receipt dated the night of the murders, and worked their way backwards from there.
‘They responded to the Dollar General store, and retrieved store video surveillance that showed one of the victims – Damion Tillman – making some purchases.
‘Detectives spoke with the clerk, who knows Damion as a frequent customer. The clerk told detectives that Damion said he was going fishing. The clerk also saw the suspects in the store at the same time, and they are also seen in the video.
‘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.’
Brothers had sordid criminal history, girlfriend no prior record
Police described TJ as ‘mean’, ‘wild’ and ‘violent’ and someone who ‘would go up and punch people for no reason’.
They added: ‘The search warrant at the trailer also yielded ammunition that was compared to the shell casings found at the scene of the triple homicide. The ammunition was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) lab for testing.
‘The FDLE expedited the testing. The test results came back positive – the ammunition found in the trailer is the same ammunition fired from the gun that night, a Smith & Wesson handgun.’
The three murdered friends were found by Cyril Rollins, the father of Brandon, who managed to call for help just before he died. Sheriff Judd said the shock of finding his son dying alongside his two friends sent Cyril to hospital later in the day.
Tillman had traveled alone to the spot, police said. His car was found facing south; the vehicle carrying Rollins and Springfield was next to it, facing north ‘right in the middle of the road’ suggesting they were parked ‘so they could talk to each other’.
Records show that both Keven Springfield and Brandon Rollins had prior arrests; Brandon for burglary and traffic violations, Springfield for theft, burglary and domestic battery.
TJ knew one of his victims
‘What’s messed up is that Keven and Tony knew each other,’ said Keri Black, a longtime friend of victims Brandon Rollins and Keven Springfield and the mother of five of Springfield’s eight children. ‘They all knew each other. They grew up together.’
“T.J.” Wiggins was a familiar face at local hangouts in Frostproof. He wasn’t a close friend of the three victims, but he wasn’t an enemy either, Black told the TampaBay Times on Wednesday. No one was, she said.
‘All three of them shared a really, really gentle soul,’ Black said. ‘Keven would do anything and everything for anybody, without question. He was loving and kind to everyone he ever met.’