Friday, April 16, 2016
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) — The man connected to a missing Priest is back in Florida and behind bars.
28-year-old Steven Murray was booked into Saint John’s County Jail in Florida just after 10:00 p.m. Friday night with bond set at 100,000 dollars. Investigators say Murray is talking to them, but haven’t discussed what he’s said.
But a key piece of evidence remains in Aiken County: Father Rene Robert’s car. The trail to find Father Robert spans three states, which investigators say only makes the case more complicated.
So News 12/NBC 26 turned to someone with years of experience to help shed light on what’s happening behind the scenes.
That person was Doug Parker, a former investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He says with Murray behind bars, the focus turns to another part of the investigation: Father Robert’s car.
“That’s where your best evidence is going to come from,” Parker says. “That may tell you a story about what happened.”
But one question is why the car is still sitting in Aiken untouched. Parker says red tape often gets in the way of common sense when a case is dealing with so many agencies.
“It can complicate things trying to keep everybody together,” Parker says.
But while clues in Father Robert’s car are important, the search for him is just as big.
Even though an active search hasn’t started, Parker says that doesn’t mean investigators aren’t at work.
“They’re tracking down leads and talking to people,” Parker says. “So while you may not see what’s going on, I promise you they’re working very hard.”
Parker says if there’s anything from 30 years with the GBI, it’s that he knows the sense of urgency to find a missing person is there. He says the need to find that person comes as long as investigators have a shred of hope the person is still breathing.
“The longer this goes on, of course, the hopes do diminish as to his health and hopefully he’s alive,” Parker says. “But as time passes, it’s going to be harder find him alive if that’s the case.”
But even with the car waiting to be searched, Parker says only one person can provide the big answer.
“That’s going to depend on Murray,” Parker says, “and whether he cooperates or not in determining exactly what happened to him.”
While investigators say they haven’t processed Father Robert’s car in detail, they did find guns inside. News 12/NBC 26 crews and witnesses on scene say a tarp was spotted inside the car as well.
The choices for Father Robert’s car at this time are between SLED processing the car in Aiken County or towing the car back to Florida. Officials have given no timetable as to when the decision will be made.