Surviving suspect in 4 slayings extradited to Florida

AP News
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Posted: Feb 08, 2017 6:04 PM
Surviving suspect in 4 slayings extradited to Florida

A woman who faces multiple charges in the deaths of four women in a bloody rampage across three states that ended in a standoff at a Georgia motel was extradited back to Florida on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

Florida First Circuit State Attorney Bill Eddins said during a news conference that investigators from his office traveled to Georgia and took Mary Rice, 37, into custody. Rice was taken to Santa Rosa County, Florida, where she faces a charge of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. She also faces murder charges in neighboring Escambia County, Florida, and Baldwin County, Alabama.

Prosecutors and law enforcement officials from both states will meet soon to discuss where Rice is to be tried first, Eddins said.

A tip called in about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday led law enforcement to the motel in West Point, where Rice and William "Billy" Boyette, 44, were holed up in a room. The two had been on the run in vehicles stolen from their victims in Alabama and Florida since early last week, according to investigators.

In west Georgia, Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff told reporters Tuesday evening that deputies set up a perimeter around the motel and a SWAT team was preparing to enter the room when Rice stepped outside and surrendered to authorities. Moments later, a gunshot was heard and deputies found Boyette dead inside the room.

The string of killings started Jan. 31, when the bodies of Alicia Greer, 30, whom authorities identify as Boyette's girlfriend, and Jacqueline Jeanette Moore, 39, were found at the Emerald Sands Inn in Milton, which is near Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle. They also were suspected in the Feb. 3 death of Peggy Broz, 52, just across the state line in Lillian, Alabama. Authorities said they took her car, which was later found in Pensacola.

Early Monday morning, Rice and Boyette went to the home of Kayla Crocker, 28, in Beulah, Florida, where they shot her and took her car, according to Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan in Pensacola. They were spotted on surveillance video a short time later at a nearby gas station and in a Hardee's restaurant.

Crocker died Tuesday of her injuries, Pensacola authorities said. Her 2-year-old son wasn't injured.

Investigators are still reviewing whether Rice will be charged in connection with Crocker's death, Florida First Circuit State Attorney Bill Eddins said Wednesday.

In addition, Eddins said he'll consult with authorities in Baldwin County, Alabama, to determine where Rice will be tried first.

"Whether the Alabama (district attorney) believes it would be more beneficial to try her here first as an accessory to capital murder or to try her first in Alabama for capital murder, we will agree and defer to them," Eddins told the Pensacola News Journal (http://on.pnj.com/2lkIUzU ).

Although authorities haven't explained the relationship between Rice and Boyette, Eddins told local news outlets that the two had been in contact before the killings of Greer and Moore. Officials also haven't said why the other victims were chosen or what role Rice played in the deaths.

Authorities believe Boyette and Rice stalked Broz and followed her from Pensacola to her home about 15 miles away in Alabama, according to Morgan. Television stations in Alabama reported Broz worked as a respiratory therapist at Baptist Health Care in Pensacola. Her car was found in Pensacola last weekend.

During an interview on WCOA-radio, Morgan, Escambia County's sheriff, said Boyette and Rice were still driving Crocker's car when they checked into the Georgia motel Monday night.

On Tuesday, someone spotted the car and alerted authorities.

Boyette allowed Rice to leave the motel room Tuesday evening and she was seen crying as she was taken into custody, Woodruff said. Authorities then heard a single gunshot from inside the motel room and found Boyette dead inside.

Authorities in Alabama had issued capital murder warrants in the case earlier Tuesday as the search for the pair entered its second week.

Agencies across the Panhandle and southern Alabama earlier had been told to consider Rice a person of interest in the attacks. On Monday she was upgraded to an official suspect after authorities said she had had multiple chances to flee or ask for help.

According to court records, Boyette was a habitual offender who was accused of beating and stabbing previous girlfriends. The Pensacola newspaper reported prosecutors were forced to drop a number of charges as victims either couldn't be located or recanted their statements. Authorities said he had only been out of jail for four months on a probation violation when the first two women were killed.

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Associated Press writers Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; and Kate Brumback and Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.