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Perry details tough case
Thursday, October 25, 2012
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Investigators’ perseverance paid off with this week’s indictments in the 18-month-old case of Amanda Massey and Robby Lawrence, who were found dead in a burning car on May 23, 2011, Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said Wednesday.
“They (investigators) had to fight for every inch” of progress they made in the case, he said.
On Tuesday, Perry announced that two people had been indicted Monday in the case involving Massey, 31, and Lawrence, 33, both of Stuart, who were found inside a burned Daewoo hatchback on Willie Craig Road in Bassett.
“When the fire was discovered, it wasn’t immediately apparent that bodies were inside (the car). That was one thing that set the tone for the battle” that investigators faced, Perry said.
After the blaze was extinguished, the first step was identifying the remains of the victims, according to the sheriff. Dental records were needed for that.
The next step either was proving or discounting the rumors that investigators heard early on in the investigation, he said.
“We were hearing rumors in the origins of the case that were not that much different than what it turned out to be,” Perry said.
He declined to give specific information about the rumors because the investigation is continuing. Also, no motive has been released.
However, “as the evidence will unfold in court, we will be able to show that something was taken in connection with the” slayings and “that is the element that needs to be met,” the sheriff said.
He did say a “number of people (allegedly) were involved” in the case, either directly or indirectly, but “none wanted to be cooperative and none wanted to see justice.”
He did not identify any of those people or their alleged roles in the slayings and/or fire, but Perry said “some of them are now facing unrelated drug charges or charges on other unrelated crimes.” Many of those allegedly involved also “were committing unrelated crimes that really had an impact on the community,” he said.
“Unfortunately, there are people in society that will only bring (information) when it does something for them,” Perry said. He added that those people may offer information when charges are pending against them as part of their “self preservation mode.”
The extent of those people’s possible involvement in the Massey-Lawrence case “has not been proven. There may, may be additional charges coming,” Perry said.
He added that the indictments announced Tuesday were related “to the actual (slayings) and the moving” of the car before the fire was set.
Eighteen months to the day after the bodies were found, Perry announced that Darius Taylor Younger, 21, was indicted on three counts of capital murder, including capital murder of Lawrence in the commission of a robbery or attempted robbery; capital murder of Massey in the commission of a robbery or attempted robbery; and capital murder of Lawrence and Massey in the same act or transaction.
Conviction of a capital murder charge is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.
Younger, who is serving a six-year prison term in a state facility for a conviction in an unrelated case, also was indicted on three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of murder, one count of robbery, one count of use of a firearm in the commission of robbery and one count of maliciously shooting into an occupied vehicle, Perry said.
Kayla Mae Bowman, 20, who was indicted Monday on one count of carjacking and one count of concealing or compounding evidence of a felony in connection with the case, is being held with no bond in the Henry County Jail, the sheriff said.
Perry said his investigators and officials with the Henry County Fire Marshal’s Office worked on the investigation throughout the past year and a half.
When working crimes, “especially major crimes, our investigators are focused and have the attitude of ‘Let’s continue this, continue to seek justice out and continue to do the right thing,’” he said. “They work well together” and their attitude about resolving the case “works very well.”
Although Chris Stovall was considered the lead investigator on the case, Perry said “everyone else helped” as in other cases. “The entire investigative division worked as a team.”
“We have an experienced group of investigators, and in the beginnings of a vast majority of the cases we deal with,” investigators start with only a body and a crime scene, the sheriff said. “They are accustomed to” continuing to work a case and push for information.
“Eventually, something will start breaking. It took a long time in this case, but their continual perseverance on it paid off,” Perry said.
Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 638-8751 or Crime Stoppers at 632-7463.
Crime Stoppers offers up to $1,000 rewards for information related to crimes. The amount of any reward depends on the nature of the crime and substance of the information provided.