© 2021 | WUWF Public Media
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514
850 474-2787
NPR for Florida's Great Northwest
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local News

Manhunt Over: 1 Dead, 1 In Custody

boyette_final_0.jpg
Escambia Co. Sheriff's Office
/

The manhunt for two suspects in four slayings in Florida and Alabama ended Tuesday afternoon at a motel in West Point, Georgia.

Troup County, Georgia, Sheriff James Woodruff told reporters that officers from several agencies surrounded the motel when a tip came in Tuesday afternoon that the pair were in one of the rooms. 

“The suspects were held up in the West Point Motel,” said Woodruff. “Mary Rice, she is in custody, and William Boyette we believe has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

The outcome of the siege, says Woodruff, was welcomed.

“We’re just glad none of our guys got hurt,” said Woodruff. “Obviously, we didn’t want anybody to take their own life, but we’re glad it did end this way in a peaceful resolution [and] nobody else got injured.”

Forty-four-year-old Billy Boyette and 37-year-old Mary Rice were being sought in connection with the murders of Alicia Greer and Jacqueline Moore at a Milton hotel.  A third victim, Peggy Broz, was found outside her home in Lillian, Alabama with her car stolen. They’re also suspected in the home invasion shooting of Kayla Crocker, who died Tuesday afternoon in a Pensacola hospital. Crocker’s vehicle was also stolen.

Among agencies leading the search the past week was the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Deputy Chip Simmons says they sifted through hundreds of tips on the whereabouts of Boyette and Rice.

“We had additional manpower at the ready; we checked every tip,” Simmons said. “And we were actually on a tip off Kingsfield Road [Cantonment] by the time we also got the tip that they may have been in Georgia. We weren’t sure they were in Georgia, so we continue with our check in the wooded area off of Kingsfield.”

Escambia County investigators are set to travel to West Point later this week. And Simmons, along with every other resident in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Baldwin Counties, is glad the search is over.

“This case has occupied the men and women of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office for a week now,” said Simmons. “It’s a tremendous relief.”

On Tuesday morning, Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson spoke with reporters about the case, and had a personal message to Billy Boyette, which turned out to be prophetic.

“I’m speaking directly to Billy Boyette, or anyone who can get him a message,” said Johnson. “Mr. Boyette: there are two places you can end up – prison, or a cemetery. The choice is yours.”

Mary Rice will be returned from the Troup County, Georgia Jail to face an accessory after the fact to first degree murder charge in Florida, and a capital murder charge, Alabama’s equivalent to first degree, in Baldwin County. State Attorney Bill Eddins is confident that his office will have dibs on first prosecution.

“The accessory after the fact venue would actually be any of the three counties,” Eddins said. “From my standpoint, the jurisdiction is really a non-issue, except as it relates to Alabama. Prosecution authorities in other jurisdictions always cooperate and work together.”

This was not Billy Boyette’s first brush with the law. As first reported by the Pensacola News Journal, his criminal cases in the Pensacola area went back at least 15 years.

But that ended Tuesday, 245 miles away, in West Point, Georgia.