FROSTPROOF, Fla. (WFLA) — The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested two brothers and a woman in connection to the ‘massacre’ of three close friends in Frostproof Friday night.
Tony “TJ” Wiggins, 26, who “did the damage” according to Sheriff Grady Judd, 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 10 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 having 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, whom 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. Tillman was inside one truck, Rollins and Springfield were in the other.
Judd said TJ Wiggins got out of the vehicle, ran up to their trucks and asked, “Where’s Keven?” TJ found Springfield 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 to 10 times with his handgun, then turning to Tillman and shooting him several times.
Judd said the three suspects then got back in their car up 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 about the case after Saturday morning’s press conference – so many calls that Judd said extra people were brought in to help.
The sheriff said a lot of tips urged detectives to check into a man named TJ Wiggins.
Wiggins, who was arrested for the first time when he was 12 years old, was reportedly a well-known bad guy in the community. Judd said he was walking free with 230 felony criminal charges in his arrest history. He was most reportedly out on bond after breaking a man’s arm with a crowbar, Judd said.
“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 Wiggins, detectives identified him as the individual behind Tillman in the Dollar General security footage.
Detectives served a search warrant at the Wiggins “family compound” of camper trailers off Sarver Avenue in Lake Wales on 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 said Whittemore purchased the ammunition for TJ in Lake Wales on July 9.
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.
Watch Sheriff Grady Judd’s full press conference in the video player below.
- Emotions ran high as Polk State College students soaked in President Biden’s inauguration
- Florida coronavirus: State surpasses 1.6 million cases, 454 new hospitalizations
- It’s a ‘joke’: Lakeland commissioners opt for resolution over mask mandate
- Florida coronavirus: State reports 9,816 new cases, 308 new hospitalizations
- ‘I’ll kill them all’: Polk County deputy arrested for threatening feds at U.S. Capitol released on bond