MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Sex, drugs, murder and arson. Three people are in custody for a bizarre murder spree in the Mid-South, including the death of a former Memphis police officer.
Robbery was the motive, and murder was the outcome after 40-year-old James Rucker and 26-year-old Melody Weddle were gunned down inside their North Memphis house Dec. 8, 2011.
Memphis police now say that double murder was the start of a violent spree of which 24-year-old Michael Dean, 22 year-old Ashley Carver, 21-year-old Lewis Gibson and 18-year-old Demetreous Santiago all played different roles.
In a rare Sunday evening news conference on Feb. 19, Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said 40-year-old Leonard Davidson was the next victim. Investigators said the Valero employee was killed after Carver lured him to a home where the other three beat him, and ultimately shot him, when he tried to escape.
"This is a very, very complicated case, as you can tell," Director Armstrong said. "They went above and beyond to prove to you, they had absolutely no regard for human life."
The case heated up late last week when police searched for 57-year-old Charles Jones, a former Memphis police officer who had been reported missing. Police say Jones was lured to a house in South Memphis after Carver promised sex; instead Jones was killed, his car and body found burned in Madison County.
When MPD stopped Jones' Lexus on Thursday, Feb. 16, they found Santiago and Dean in the car with some cocaine. Before they could be arrested the two took off with Jones' body in the trunk. But with the pair identified, it was the break cops needed.
After avoiding police, in the end Dean came to them. He showed up the next day at 201 Poplar for a drug test as part of his probation on a different arrest and was promptly taken into custody. Carver and Gibson soon followed.
But wait, there's more.
When police returned to the house where Jones was murdered to collect evidence, they discovered the house had been set on fire. Police are calling the fire suspicious.
Michael Dean and Ashley Carver are currently charged with First Degree Murder in Perpetration of Especially Aggravated Robbery and are being held without bond at the Shelby County Jail.
21-year-old Lewis Gibson is also charged with Especially Aggravated Robbery and First Degree Murder in Perpetration of Especially Aggravated Robbery in connection with Leonard Davidson's murder.
Demetreous Santiago remains at large.
Police said they're looking at other cases to see if this group could have robbed others, or worse.