Glynn County offers $25,000 reward in murders of eight

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The grim death toll in Saturday’s massacre at a Glynn County mobile home park reached eight, leaving one lone survivor and a community unsure whether a mass murderer is in its midst.

Michael Toler, 19, died about noon Sunday, said Capt. Marissa Tindale, head of the detectives division with the Glynn County Police Department.

Shortly after Mr. Toler's death was made public Sunday, Police Chief Matt Doering announced a $25,000 reward “for the arrest of the person or persons responsible for one or more of these deaths.”

Asked what the county-funded reward means in terms of the investigation, he said, “What does the $25,000 mean? It means we need help.’’

In a frantic 911 call to police, released Monday, a relative of the victims screams "My whole family is dead!"

Glynn County police released the 911 recording Monday morning. On the call, a weeping 22-year-old Guy Heinze Jr. says he found the victims when he came home Saturday morning. He says it looks like they were beaten to death.

Heinze said his father, uncle and cousins were among the dead. He also pleads with a 911 operator to send help for one of two survivors whose face is "smashed in" but is still breathing.

On Sunday, the police chief warned jittery residents: “Be aware. Be alert. Don’t think it’s OK, because it ain’t.”

Doering again said that police have no specific suspect and that officers would resume searching for evidence today.

“Someone without a doubt walked into that house and killed them. Yes, it could be more than one suspect,’’ Doering said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Savannah crime lab has completed autopsies on four of the bodies and Doering said he was unsure when all will be completed.

Michael Toler is the son of Russell “Rusty” Toler, according to a woman who knows the family and who once managed the New Hope Mobile Home Park where the family lived. The woman and a law enforcement source told the Times-Union that Rusty Toler was also killed.

Three of Rusty Toler’s other children also died in the attack, the woman said. The Times-Union is not identifying the other children because their names have not been confirmed.

Grief counselors will be available Monday at Needwood Middle School, where Toler’s 15-year-old daughter, Michelle, is enrolled as an eighth-grader.

School Superintendent Howard Mann said he didn’t know the girl’s fate, but grief counselors and support personnel will be available today for Needwood’s students and staff.

The only survivor is a young boy in critical condition, said both a member of his family and the woman. The boy is Rusty Toler’s grandson.

About 10 miles north in Eulonia, many of Rusty Toler’s extended family were gathered at the home of Elease Davis. A law enforcement officer described her as Rusty Toler’s former mother-in-law and grandmother of at least some of his children.

A man at Davis’ home, who declined to identify himself, said she was at the hospital in Savannah where survivors were being treated.

He also said the older one, whom he declined to name, had died at 12:33 p.m. The man said police have not told them who was in the mobile home. “They haven’t told us anything, but we know,’’ he said.

Doering has been tight-lipped about details in the case, refusing to release the causes of death or the names of the seven other victims, saying he wanted to wait until they were positively identified through autopsies.

Because of the severity of the injuries, their identities and manner in which they were slain could not be readily determined, County Coroner Jimmy Durden said.

Earlier in the day Sunday, Doering said Guy Heinze Jr., the man who called 911 on Saturday to report someone had killed his family, was charged with tampering with evidence and obstructing police, along with drug possession charges.

Heinze, 22, is the son of Guy Heinze Sr., who died in the attacks, according to John Bryant, the elder Heinze’s brother-in-law.

Bryant, 51, of Illinois told the Times-Union by phone Sunday that his wife got calls from a sister and her father telling her about the attack and Heinze’s death.

He said Heinze Sr. was one of nine siblings born in the Chicago area. He said they were all given up for adoption and several lived troubled lives that included drug abuse. Bryant said he last saw Heinze Sr. about 15 years ago and knew little about the younger Heinze.

But Jimmy Trutt, a neighbor of the elder Heinze in the Ashantilly Mobile Home Park on the outskirts of Darien, expressed doubt the son played any role in the slayings.

“I can’t see Little Guy doing that,’’ he said.

Heinze Sr. had been a long-haul trucker and often had several rigs sitting by the road, but business got bad, the trucks disappeared and the elder Heinze moved into the mobile at New Hope, Trutt said.

The police chief wouldn’t say whether Heinze Jr. is tied to the deaths.

“I would not call Mr. (Guy) Heinze (Jr.) a suspect, but I won’t rule him out either,” Doering said.

Doering said police have “evidence he (Heinze Jr.) lied to us and tampered with evidence at the crime scene.”

Doering said Sunday investigators are “comfortable” that none of those found inside the trailer were involved in the attack, but they all lived there.

Doering is getting mixed reviews on the lack of information he is giving about the investigation.

“The chief of police did not make us feel secure,’’ said Toni Mugavin, who lives in a neighborhood a few miles south of the park. “We as a community don’t feel safe anymore.”

Mugavin said more information would be especially helpful to people who live in the mobile home park or nearby. “Let them sleep,’’ she said. “Give us something to calm down this community.’’

Brunswick resident Arturo Sanchez said he is frightened, but understands why Doering is not saying much. “Of course, I’m afraid. There have been nine deaths in the last week,’’ he said, including the slayings of two men who died the previous weekend in robberies. (At the time, police had not released Michael Toler’s death.) “You don’t know if they’re still in town,’’ he said of possible killers.

Saturday afternoon, a woman came to the scene in a white car, spoke briefly to some residents and then began screaming.

Belinda West contacted the Times-Union Sunday and identified herself as the woman. West said her son was not inside the mobile home as one of the New Hope residents had said and that he is safe and well.

She came to the park looking for her brother-in-law who lived in the mobile home, but whom she declined to name Sunday.

“We [are] waiting to hear from them,’’ she said.

Investigators had expanded their search for clues in the case from a two-square-mile area around the park off U.S. 17 to two spots about 15 miles away, Doering said. He would not say where or what they were looking for.

Anyone with information should call Silent Witness at (912) 264-1333. Callers can remain anonymous.

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