|Guy Heinze Jr|
I first became aware of the Guy Heinze Jr case when I watched Life and Death Row, the documentary made by BBC UK. Incidentally, it was this programme - albeit a different episode - that first brought my attention to the Robert Pruett case. The thing that struck me about the Heinze Jr case, apart from the incredible violence of the case, was the fact a single man had been convicted of the murders of eight people. These people were various members of his family, including his own father, and had all been in the family trailer at the time of the killings. Is it really possible for a lone man to overpower and murder eight people, without anyone hearing or seeing anything?
On August 29th 2009, a frantic 911 call was made to dispatchers in Glynn County, Georgia. Margaret Orlinski, a neighbor of Heinze and his family, informed them that her neighbour was 'freaking out' and shouting his family were all dead. After being brought to the phone, an hysterical Heinze Jr confirmed that ' my entire family are dead' before dropping the phone and going back to the trailer. Orlinski added that ten people lived in the trailer and Guy Heinze Jr had apparently returned from a night out to the gruesome scene. When officers arrived at the family's trailer they found the dead bodies of six people; Guy Heinze Sr, Rusty Toler Sr, Brenda Falagan, Chrissy Toler, Russell D Toler, Michelle Toler and her boyfriend, Joseph L West. Two survivors, one with life threatening injuries, a young adult with downs syndrome identified as Michael Toler and the small son of Chrissy Toler Byron Jimmerson were removed from the trailer and rushed to hospital. Sadly, 19-year old Michael Toler died from his injuries the day after the murders. Byron would go on to make a full recovery and is now being raised by family.
The crime scene was described by many of the police officers in attendance as the worse they had ever seen. Although Guy Heinze Jr appeared to be devastated by the loss of his family, he was a person of interest from the beginning. A press conference two days after the murders confirmed Heinze Jr was not an official suspect but nor had they ruled out his involvement. Law enforcement did confirm they believed only one person was responsible for the murders. Guy Heinze Jr was arrested on suspicion of murder and other charges on September 4th 2009.
The trial of Guy Heinze Jr began in October 2012, despite prosecutors stating they would be seeking the death penalty Heinze Jr pleaded 'not guilty' to all eight counts of murder. Prosecutors believe that Heinze Jr returned to the family trailer early on the morning of the murders high after a night of smoking crack cocaine. Knowing his uncle, Russell Toler Sr, had a strong painkiller prescription he set about looking for the tablets. When he was confronted by Toler Sr prosecutors said Heinze Jr completely 'lost it' resulting in Toler and the other seven residents of the trailer being savagely bludgeoned. Autopsy results shared during the trial revealed the victims received over 220 injuries between them and each died of brain and head injuries. Although the murder weapon was never actually found, investigators believe the victims were beaten with the butt of a shotgun. Guy Heinze Jr's defence team implored the jury to consider the chances of a single man being able to contain and beat eight people in a small trailer with not one of the victims escaping. The defence also believed the police had concentrated on Heinze Jr being the perpetrator from the very beginning and this gave them tunnel vision with regard to any other possible suspects.
While much of the Heinze Jr case was circumstantial, this did not stop the jury from finding him guilty of eight counts of malice murder. Thanks to a juror being removed during deliberations and replaced, the defence team made a deal that removed the death penalty from the table. Guy Heinze Jr was sentenced to life without parole.
Is it possible for a single man to beat eight people to death in a small trailer without anyone raising the alarm or, from the evidence found, even fighting back? Both Heinze Jr's neighbour and the police who arrived on the scene noted he was not covered in blood or injured in any way. Beating eight people to death with the butt of a shotgun is going to leave the killer drenched in blood, surely? It is also important to note that there were relatively fit males among the victims, certainly capable of at least injuring an attacker if not warding them off together. Yet apparently, on that night in 2009, Guy Heinze Jr brutally beat eight members of his family to death, without any of them even waking up, screaming or calling for help. He then walked away from the crime scene with minimal blood on his hands, which Heinze Jr explained was from when he found the bodies. Do you think the right person is in prison? or is Guy Heinze Jr innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted?
The Guy Heinze Jr 911 Call