HOUSTON (AP) — One of three homeless men whose skeletal remains were found in an abandoned Houston warehouse was the father of another homeless man charged in the other two deaths, a prosecutor said Friday.
Jamie Walter, 27, is accused of bludgeoning two of the victims with a hammer then burning their bodies before dumping them in the warehouse. He has been charged with capital murder in those two deaths.
"It's pretty gruesome, very brutal and seemingly senseless and bizarre to some extent," said Justin Wood, a Harris County District Attorney's Office prosecutor. Authorities are still trying to determine a motive for the killings.
Walter has not been charged in relation to the third victim who authorities believe was Steven Walter, the suspect's father, Wood said.
Jamie Walter did not speak in court Friday. He remains jailed without bond.
One of Walter's attorneys, James Stafford, said his client has a long history of mental illness and that he was "very remorseful" as well as "frightened and concerned."
Walter has not described his relationship with his father, Stafford said, calling it "a sad case."
Police responding to a disturbance at the warehouse late Tuesday encountered Walter, who led them to two sets of remains, since identified as Monty Kaiser and Donald Fleming. Walter initially blamed his wife in the killings, but later said they both hit the victims in the head with a hammer.
Authorities said the killings took place April 6, but that Walter moved the bodies a few weeks later, put them in 55 gallon drums, burned them and then dumped them in the warehouse.
Walter's wife, Rachel Johnson, who was also homeless, has been cooperating with police, and investigators are trying to determine if she was involved in the killings, Wood said.
Steven Walter was killed in June, Wood said. Authorities have not released details of how the elder Walter died.
Jamie Walter has ties to the Aryan Brotherhood but it is unknown if that played a role in any of the deaths, Wood said. No information was immediately available on the races of any of the victims.
In July, Walter was charged with aggravated assault of a family member in an attack on Johnson, who was then described as his girlfriend. According to court documents, Walter fractured her skull with a hammer and slashed her leg with a machete at an abandoned warehouse near the one where the bodies were found.
In 2012, Walter was sentenced to two years in state prison after pleading guilty to a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities said he assaulted a man with a pipe.
Walter has also been arrested on drug and forgery charges.
Stafford said Walter has spent time in mental wards in juvenile detention and prison, and received medication for mental illness when he was 15 years old.
"It is a problem that we need to address, our mental illness, and this will probably be a very ripe issue in this case," Stafford said.
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