Three best friends were “massacred” Friday night in Florida while on a fishing trip at a remote lake in a “usually very safe” and “quaint” community, according to the Polk County Sheriff.
Damion Tillman, 23, Keven Springfield, 30, and Brandon Rollins, 27, were all beaten and shot to death around 10 p.m. Friday night at a lake off Lake Streety Road in an unincorporated area of Frostproof.
“It’s about as far out in the middle of the woods as you can get,” Sheriff Grady Judd said of the murder scene in a press conference Saturday. “It’s a peaceful area. There is a beautiful lake that three very close friends were coming fishing on last night and all three of them are dead.”
Judd described the “horrific scene” as one of the worst he’d ever seen during his law enforcement career.
Authorities believe Tillman arrived at the lake first in his red pickup truck and was being murdered when Springfield and Rollins both arrived together in a white pickup truck and were “shot up,” Grady said.
Before he died, Rollins was able to call his father and say "help." His father jumped into his vehicle and drove out to the lake where he found his gravely injured son and was able to talk to him about what happened.
Authorities have not released any information about what Rollins was able to tell his father.
“When I got there, I was looking for my son. It was a mess. I found my son. I was holding him. He was telling me what happened, but I was too shocked,” an emotional Cyril Rollins later told local station WFLA.
Judd said in Cyril Rollins' “excitement to run to and help his son” he forgot his cellphone at home and found himself in the remote area “without any communications.”
Cyril Rollins got back into his vehicle and went to a nearby convenience store to call for help, but by the time EMS arrived at the scene, all three men had died.
“What the murderers also didn’t count on was Brandon had the opportunity to talk to his dad before he died,” the sheriff said.
Judd said investigators were “holding most of the information very close to the chest” about the shooting, but were asking for the public’s help to solve the triple homicide.
“We are seeking leads,” he said. “We need help so that we can solve this crime sooner rather than later because there are one or more—and we suspect more than one murderer—that killed three people in a little country community.”
Authorities are not sure whether the three men knew their attackers but Judd said the crime scene was in a very remote area.
“You don’t just stumble upon somebody out here,” he said. “This is a dirt road, a clay dirt road, way out in the middle of what we call God’s country, on the way to a nice little fishing lake. It’s not like there’s a lot of people around here.”
Rollins’ mother, Dottie Payton, told WFLA that the three best friends went fishing off Lake Streety Road “almost every other night.”
She urged the person or people responsible for the brutal killings to come forward.
“I know it can’t bring my son back, but I just want to see something done,” she said. “This was horrible.”
Rollins’ girlfriend Jessica Steenson told the station that Judd had made her a promise at the scene of the murders that “he will not stop until justice is served” for the three victims.
Steenson said she moved to the area from Jacksonville, Florida for Rollins about two years ago.
“This is not how it was supposed to be and I want justice for him. And I will not stop until he gets it,” she said.
Carrie E. Horstman, a public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff's Office, told Oxygen.com that as of Monday there had been no arrests in the case and there is no new information to release.
Anyone with information about the crime is urged to contact authorities. Heartland Crime Stoppers is also offering a $5,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest.
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