Two capital murder suspects "became upset" with fellow members of a club and went to a Valhermoso Springs house to “wipe the slate clean” on the night seven people were found shot to death there, a Morgan County investigator's affidavit says.
John Michael Legg, 19, of Danville, and Frederic “Rick” Allen Rogers, 22, of Hartselle, were angry about "perceived disobedience toward the club" and the theft of "personal firearms," a witness told authorities, according to an affidavit filed by investigator Jordan Byrd of the sheriff’s criminal investigative division.
Legg and Rogers remain jailed in Oregon and face capital murder charges in Morgan County in the June 4 shooting deaths at 522 Talucah Road. Authorities have said they were members of a previously unknown local club called Seven Deadly Sins.
According to an affidavit filed before Morgan County Circuit Judge Charles Elliott, an unnamed female witness said "several previous incidents" led up to the homicides. The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said the female was a witness in the case, but not a witness to the crime.
About two hours after the shootings were reported, the witness "received a message via cellphone from Rogers that read 'everything has been dealt with' and 'if anyone asks you we're going on vacation,' " the affidavit said.
After a two-week nationwide search involving 25 law enforcement agencies, Legg and Rogers were arrested Sunday afternoon in Marion County, Oregon, where Rogers had relatives, according to authorities.
Morgan County Coroner Jeff Chunn identified the seven slain as James Wayne Benford, 22, of Decatur; William Zane Hodgin, 18, of Somerville; Roger Lee Jones Jr., 20, of Decatur; Tammy England Muzzey, 45, of Valhermoso Springs; Emily Brooke Payne, 21, of Valhermoso Springs; Jeramy Wade Roberts, 31, of Athens; and a female, 17, whose name has not been released because she was a juvenile.
The affidavit said the witness reached out to investigators of the FBI violent crimes task force about 5 p.m. Thursday to provide information in the case.
The witness said she "lived at the ‘club house’ of the ‘7 Deadly Sins,' " and the club consisted of Legg, Rogers, victims Jones, Roberts and Benford, and a sixth male, according to the affidavit.
“The witness stated that several previous incidents had led up to the (killings)," according to the affidavit. "... The witness stated that on the night of (June 4) John Legg and Ricky Rogers became upset, particularly Legg over the perceived disobedience toward the club and the theft of several of his personal firearms a few hours before the homicides. The witness stated that Rogers and Legg stated something to the effect of ‘We’re going in there by force and wipe the slate clean.’ The witness stated that Rogers and Legg continued to state that the ‘club’ would be dismantled by the end of the night.”
The cellphone message to the witness at 1:35 a.m. June 5 also asked her "to take care of ‘ducky,’ their 3-legged cat which was owned by Ricky Rogers,” according to the affidavit.
Morgan County 911 notified the Sheriff’s Office at 11:32 p.m. on June 4 of a report of shots fired at the Valhermoso Springs residence. A small fire, the seven victims and dead dog were found in the house.
“Upon deputies' arrival, they discovered smoke emitting from the residence," the affidavit said. "Furthermore, deputies discovered several victims deceased throughout the residence. During the subsequent investigation, it was discovered that the victims had suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Investigators also discovered that it appeared that the victims’ cellular phones had been taken.”
The sheriff’s incident report said the perpetrators did not use force to enter the house through a door moments before committing the crime.
It was noted in the affidavit that Legg’s cellphone was turned off at about 10 p.m. June 4 and was briefly active June 5 in Kansas.
Sheriff's Office spokesman Mike Swafford said his department is weighing its options of driving or flying to Salem, Oregon, where the capital murder suspects are housed in the Marion County Jail. Swafford said four deputies would be needed to travel in two vehicles the 2,518 miles to Oregon to pick up the suspects.
“We’re looking at an option of flying, too,” Swafford said. “Whatever makes more economical sense.” He said the department also is responsible for transporting back to Alabama the silver/gray Dodge Charger the suspects were driving when they were captured. He said a date to transfer the suspects has not been set. It remains unclear whether the suspects will challenge extradition to Alabama.
The suspects were stopped in Stayton, Oregon, about 12:30 p.m. Sunday driving the vehicle, according Marion County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Anna Jefferson. She said local FBI, SWAT members and the Aumsville Police Department assisted in the arrest. She said Legg and Rogers did not resist arrest. They were booked in the Marion County Jail later that night after questioning, she said.
Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long said he was surprised the 25 law enforcement agencies made quick arrests in the case, and that the suspects had fled to Oregon.
“It’s always sad when we have citizens in Morgan County who commit cold-blooded murder on other people in this county. People don’t value human life like they did 20 to 30 years ago,” he said. “It’s just sad for all of the families involved.”
A capital murder conviction carries either the death penalty or life without parole in prison.