BAY MINETTE, Alabama — An ongoing investigation is being conducted in the future prosecution of a Milton, Florida, woman in connection with the Feb. 3 shooting death of a Lillian resident, along …
BAY MINETTE, Alabama — An ongoing investigation is being conducted in the future prosecution of a Milton, Florida, woman in connection with the Feb. 3 shooting death of a Lillian resident, along with two deaths in Santa Rosa County and one in Escambia County, Florida over a one-week period.
“This is certainly something I have never seen as far as the fact that there were four murders in such a short time span in such close proximity,” said Baldwin County District Attorney Robert “Bob” Wilters.
Wilters, Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack Jr., along with members of the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit, held a joint press conference on Thursday, Feb. 9 to discuss the future of Mary Rice, who is being charged with murder in connection with the death of Peggy Broz in Lillian.
She is also being charged in Florida in connection with the deaths Jan. 31 of Alicia Greer and Jacqueline Moore in Santa Rosa County and the shooting on Feb. 6 in Escambia County’s Beulah community of Kayla Crocker, who later died of her injuries.
Rice was taken into custody by Troup County Sheriff’s deputies on Feb. 7 at the West Point Motel in West Point, Georgia. Shortly thereafter, the primary suspect in the four deaths, William “Billy” Boyette, was pronounced dead from a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
In Baldwin County, the investigation was turned over to the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit shortly after Broz was found dead in her front yard Feb. 3 in Lillian.
“Early in our investigation, Boyette was identified as the prime suspect in the case,” Mack said during the press conference. “In the course of our investigation, Rice was also identified as being a suspect.”
Both Mack and Wilters would not discuss specific evidence in the case.
“We feel like we have a good case against her,” Wilters said, “and will do everything we can to ensure she gets the maximum penalty under the law.”
In Baldwin County, Rice is facing capital murder charges in connection with aggravated assault during the course of a first-degree robbery in the theft of the automobile belonging to Broz, Wilters said, charges that carry a maximum penalty of life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
She is being charged with murder in the first degree in connection with the two deaths in Santa Rosa County and one death in Escambia County, Florida, charges that carry a maximum penalty of life in prison or life in prison without the possibility of parole, Wilters said.
Rice chose to be extradited to Florida rather than be extradited to Alabama, Wilters said, and is being held on a $750,000 bond in the Santa Rosa County (Florida) Corrections Facility.
Who gets to prosecute Rice first will be determined as the investigation continues, Wilters said.
“They (Santa Rosa County authorities) have her and she is in custody there,” he said. “That is their trump card. We will get her only once their investigation is concluded or we are able to proceed with extradition into Alabama.”
Boyette and Rice’s alleged killing spree began Tuesday, Jan. 31 when Boyette allegedly killed Alicia Greer and Jacqueline Moore at the Emerald Sands Inn in Milton, Fla.
The pair’s next alleged killing occurred in Lillian on Friday, Feb. 3 when Peggy Broz was killed at her home.
“We still believe that it was a random act,” said Wilters of Broz’s death. “It is unknown at this time how long they had been following her, but it is believed that she was killed solely to obtain possession of her vehicle.”
The investigation in Baldwin County was quickly turned over to the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit, a group of 20 investigators from the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office and municipal police departments throughout the county.
“The MCU was formed six years ago with the intent of pooling our resources in order to resolve major cases within seven days,” Mack said. “It this case, that goal was met successfully.”
On the morning of Monday, Feb. 6, Boyette allegedly shot mother of two Kayla Crocker during a home invasion and stole her car, the Chevy Cobalt the pair used to drive to West Point. Crocker died Tuesday evening from injuries sustained from the shooting.
Boyette and Rice were then tracked to the motel in West Point, where the pair reportedly checked in Monday afternoon and by Tuesday evening Boyette was dead and Rice was in custody.
“We are working on an exact timeline and believe that it will be pivotal in prosecuting the case,” Mack said Thursday, adding that there were several reports of sightings in Alabama and Florida that need to be confirmed.
Also recognized during the press briefing were Andy Ashton with the BCSO, chief investigator with the Major Crimes Unit; Capt. Jud Beedy, chief investigator with the Daphne Police Department; Chief Ed Delmore with the Gulf Shores Police Department and David White, chief investigator with the DA’s Office.
Wilters said while he is confident that the prosecution of the case will eventually bring closure to the Broz family, when that will happen is still to be determined.
“It would take more than a year,” he said, “at this point in the process, we just don’t know.”