The father of Steven James Murray, who is accused of killing a Florida priest, told police his son called him during a high-speed chase to say police would have to kill him because he wasn’t going to prison.
Murray, 28, now sits in the Burke County jail on a charge of murder while two other states rack up more charges against him. Bond for the murder charge was denied last week.
Florida police began searching for Murray, a former Aiken County resident who had moved to Jacksonville, Fla., after he was listed as a suspect in the disappearance of the Rev. Rene Robert.
The same day Robert was formally reported as missing, Murray was involved in a chase while driving Robert’s car. According to a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office warrant for aggravated fleeing and eluding, Murray reached speeds of up to 100 mph in the Toyota Corolla and repeatedly hit the brakes trying to get the officers to kill him. After he got on Interstate 95 he repeatedly ran vehicles off the road at 100 mph speeds. Police lost sight of him in an interstate construction zone.
Murray’s 53-year-old father, Bobby James Murray, told investigators his son called him during the pursuit and told him four cops were chasing him. The warrant further states the younger Murray called again to say, “Now 12 cops are chasing me. I’m not going to prison. They are going to have to kill me.”
The day after the chase the elder Murray was arrested by Florida police for an August warrant for exposing himself in front of children by the pool of the motel where he was living.
Steven Murray did not appear again until April 13 when he got into a chase with South Carolina police in Aiken County. After crashing Robert’s car, Murray fled on foot, prompting a manhunt that eventually led to his arrest.
On April 18 Murray led police to Robert’s body in a wooded lot off Georgia Highway 56 Spur in Burke County. GBI Special Agent in Charge Pat Morgan said last week that it appears Robert was killed in Burke County on April 11.
March 22: Steven James Murray is booked into the Duval County jail on a charge of operating a vehicle with a suspended license and failure to appear.
April 6: Murray is released from the Duval County jail.
April 10: Rene Robert is last seen alive. His last Facebook check-in was at 1 p.m. at Orange Park Medical Center in Orange Park, Fla., where he states he is “visiting a patient.”
April 11: GBI Special Agent in Charge Pat Morgan said there are indications Robert was killed and dumped in Burke County on this day.
April 12: Robert is reported missing after he fails to show up for a funeral.
April 12 – 10 p.m.: Murray is spotted on I-95 in Robert’s car. Heavy traffic and a construction zone help him elude police.
April 13 – 4:20 p.m.: Aiken County firefighters respond to a fire at 2482 Wire Road that is labeled “suspicious.” The homeowner said multiple guns had been stolen from the home. A tire iron that did not belong to the homeowner was found at the scene.
April 13 – 5:20 p.m.: Multiple law enforcement agencies (ACSO, SLED, U.S. Marshals) in South Carolina working on a tip discover Murray in Robert’s vehicle near Snipes Pond and Wire roads. Murray speeds off, crashing the vehicle, and then flees on foot, prompting a manhunt. Several hours later he is taken into custody in Aiken County. Guns stolen from the Wire Road home are in Robert’s vehicle.
April 15: Murray is extradited back to St. Johns County on charges of aggravated fleeing/eluding and as a person of interest in Robert’s disappearance.
April 17: Florida officials suspend a search for the priest. A cellphone ping led police to believe Robert may be in a rural area off of Interstate 10 in Duval County.
April 18 (evening): Murray returns to Georgia where he leads police to a body believed to be Robert in a wooded lot on Highway 56 Spur, about a mile from Highway 56. GBI joins the investigation.
April 20: Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey announces Murray will face malice murder charges. He is denied bond at his first court appearance. An autopsy is conducted but a positive match cannot be made because of the condition of the body. It did determine he died of multiple gunshot wounds.
April 21: Dental records confirm the body is Robert.
Sources: St. Johns, Burke, Aiken county sheriff’s offices; Georgia Bureau of Investigation.