RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - Two people have been arrested and charged in the murder of a Seale couple who were initially believed to have died in a house fire on Sunday, January 6.
Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said the case was pushed forward because of an anonymous tip that came in Tuesday.
22-year-old Daryus Sullivan and a 34-year-old Joshua James Pickard have been arrested for the murders of 65-year-old William Perry and his partner, 50-year-old Deborah Peay.
Autopsies revealed that both Perry and Peay were shot and killed prior to the fire. Pathologists were able to determine that neither body had smoke in the lungs or esophagus.
The two suspects reportedly lived together in a mobile home park, but had no known blood relation. One neighbor said one of the suspects “terrorized” the High Ridge Mobile Home Park" near the Fort Mitchell-Mount Olive area. Both Sullivan and Pickard are charged with capital murder.
“If you kill more than one person in a murder, it’s capital murder. If you steal something in the process of a murder, it’s capital murder. So there are several felonies in conjunction with the shooting that would make [this] capital murder," said Taylor.
Police have also recovered what they believe to be the murder weapon, a 32 caliber handun. Taylor said the pathologist recovered two rounds from the victims' bodies, and they will be comparing those to the handgun.
The suspects are believed to have gone into the home to commit a burglary. Food, beer and a vehicle were stolen from the residence. The vehicle, a 2001 two-door Honda Accord, has been recovered.
Pickard also has an outstanding warrant for probation violation out of Arkansas.
Being charged with capital murder means Sullivan and Pickard could be facing the death penalty. Taylor said the district attorney will "absolutely [be] going after the death penalty. Both suspects are being held without bond.
Taylor said they will give the anonymous tipster the $5,000 reward, if they’ll accept it.
The investigation is still ongoing.