FROSTPROOF, Fla. (WFLA) — The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested two brothers and a woman following the “massacre” of three close friends in Frostproof, Florida, Friday night.
Tony “TJ” Wiggins, 26, who Sheriff Grady Judd said “did the damage,” was charged with three counts of murder.
TJ’s girlfriend, Mary Whittemore, 27, and brother, Robert Wiggins, 21, were arrested and charged with being accessories to the murders.
The sheriff’s office said the victims, Brandon Rollins, 27, Keven Springfield, 30, and Damion Tillman, 23, planned a nighttime catfishing trip near Lake Streety Friday evening.
At 10:56 p.m. that night, Rollins’ father received a phone call from his son pleading for help. When his father drove to the lake where he knew his son would be, he found him and his two friends “shot up.”
Judd said just ten minutes prior to Rollins’ phone call to his father, Rollins’ friend Tillman was at a nearby Dollar General getting supplies for the fishing trip. Behind Tillman in line, Judd said, was TJ Wiggins. Also in the store were Robert Wiggins and Mary Wittemore.
Judd said TJ heard Tillman tell the clerk he was “going fishing with Keven Springfield.” TJ reportedly replied, “What? Keven’s gonna be there?” Judd said security footage showed Tillman and Wiggins have a somewhat normal conversation in the store before Tillman walked out.
The Wiggins brothers and Whittemore left the Dollar General after Tillman and got in their car. Robert Wiggins, who Judd said has been most cooperative with police, told detectives his brother told him to “go to the lake,” as he pulled away from the store.
Near the lake, the Wiggins brothers and Whittemore pulled up behind two trucks that had stopped with their windows down to talk. Inside one truck was Tillman. Rollins and Springfield were inside the other.
Judd said TJ got out of the vehicle, ran up to their trucks and asked, “Where’s Keven?” TJ Wiggins found Keven in the truck with Rollins, and allegedly pointed the gun at him demanding, “Where’s my truck? You stole the engine out of my truck!”
Judd said TJ Wiggins shot Brandon Rollins and Keven Springfield 9-10 times with his handgun. He then turned to Tillman and allegedly shot him several times.
Judd said the three suspects then got back in their car and drove to an undisclosed location where they stripped down the gun, took it apart, and threw it away. They then went to McDonald’s where Robert Wiggins said his brother told them, “We weren’t there.”
Judd said hundreds of tips came in on the case after Saturday morning’s press conference. So many calls were coming in, Judd said extra help was brought to the call center to help with the load.
The sheriff said a lot of tips area urged the sheriff’s office to check into a man named “TJ Wiggins.”
Wiggins, who was arrested for the first time when he was 12 years old, was walking free with 230 felony criminal charges in his arrest history, Judd said. He was most recently out on bond after breaking a man’s arm with a crowbar, according to Judd.
“He’s a thug,” the sheriff said. “He’s a criminal. He’s pure evil in the flesh. He’s wild and he’s out of control.”
While looking into the tips about TJ Wiggins, detectives identified him as the individual behind Tillman in the Dollar General security footage from Friday night before the fishing trip.
Detectives served a search warrant at the Wiggins “family compound” of camper trailers off Sarver Avenue in Lake Wales Monday. Judd said the family lives off the grid without running water or electricity.
During the search warrant, police reportedly found two rifles, two shotguns, and ammunition for both in a gun safe. Because TJ Wiggins is a convicted felon, he was placed under arrest for possession of firearms.
Judd said detectives also found ammunition that matched the shell casings found at the scene of the triple homicide. Investigators learned Whittemore allegedly purchased the ammunition for TJ in Lake Wales on July 9.
Mary Whittemore had no criminal history up until Friday night, Judd said. Robert Wiggins had just one misdemeanor arrest.
Neither TJ Wiggins nor Mary Whittemore are cooperating with detectives, the sheriff’s office says.