The Jacksonville, Fla., man arrested Wednesday in Aiken County in connection with the disappearance of a 71-year-old Catholic priest is back in Florida after an extradition hearing.
The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office was holding Steven James Murray, 28, for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office on charges of aggravated fleeing/eluding and as a person of interest in the disappearance of the Rev. Rene Robert, who remains missing.
Aiken County police found Robert’s Toyota Corolla near Snipes Pond and Wire roads Wednesday afternoon. When they approached, Murray sped off, crashed and then fled on foot before being taken into custody, police say.
Murray’s 53-year-old father, Bobby James Murray, also was arrested Wednesday on an outstanding warrant for exposing himself at a Jacksonville motel pool when children were nearby. The arrest came as police searched the Stars Rest Inn, which Steven Murray had listed as an address on a recent traffic citation, according to court records.
The Murrays are from Aiken. Steven Murray attended Midland Valley High School.
Robert remains missing. Authorities think he had been ministering to Steven Murray, who recently got out of jail, according to earlier media reports.
“It has been painful on a personal and professional level that he has been missing, and all indications are the ending for this may not be what we hope and pray that it will be,” St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar said Thursday.
Records and social media postings describe Murray as a small-time criminal with burglary and bad driving arrests, an itinerant tree service worker who had at least one child.
Murray had just been released from the Duval County jail April 6 after a March 22 arrest for operating a vehicle with a suspended license and failure to appear, according to records.