The four active duty soldiers were denied bond Monday in a Long County court. Pvt. Christopher Salmon and Sgt. Anthony Peden, both 25, face malice murder charges. Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, 19, and Pfc. Michael Burnett, 26, are charged with being a party to murder.
The men were arrested on Saturday, days after two fishermen found the bodies of 19-year-old Michael Roark and 17-year-old Tiffany York near a rural road. Authorities would not say what led them to the four suspects, but they said they all knew Roark.
“They were friends, if you could call it that,” said Capt. Nickey Anderson of the Long County Sheriff’s Office.
Defense attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment, and relatives of the men didn’t return calls.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Mike McDaniel said the victims were shot in the head, but he declined to discuss a possible motive or other details of the investigation. He said the killings have startled the otherwise quiet community, a county of 14,000 near several military installations.
“It’s a very serious and unusual crime for two young people of this age to be killed,” McDaniel said.
The soldiers belonged to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia. Military officials said Roark was released from the service on Dec. 2, but did not give other details.
The victims’ bodies were found on Dec. 6, a day after the two were believed to be killed.
Anderson said authorities believe Roark was soon planning to move to Washington state, where his mother lived. He said Roark had been dating York, a high school junior, for several months when the shooting took place.
Investigators said additional charges could be filed in the ongoing investigation.
“We’re still working,” said McDaniel. “We’ve still got things to do and it’s not 100 percent complete.”