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An Alabama man has been charged with multiple counts of murder after three bodies were discovered in a vehicle submerged in a lake near the Georgia state line earlier this week.
Demetrius Devonte McGhee, 26, is facing four counts of capital murder after a sedan containing the remains of a woman and two adolescents was found floating in Lake Eufaula on April 26, officials said.
On Monday, a jogger noticed a blue Toyota sedan floating in the lake around 7:20 a.m. and tipped off local police, according to Eufaula Mayor Jack Tibbs, WSFA reported.
“He walked over... looked into the car, raised his hands and started telling everybody to get back,” local resident Julie Taylor told the outlet. “And then some of the park workers came around to where I was parked and told us we had to leave because there were bodies in the car.”
The car appeared half-sunk by the time authorities arrived, at which point the bodies of a woman and two adolescents were removed from the car, according to the Barbour County Coroner. Their names and ages and causes of death aren’t publicly available.
Barbour County Coroner Chip Chapman told Oxygen.com that the deaths were “traumatic” and added that a preliminary analysis suggested the victims were likely deceased prior to the vehicle entering Lake Eufaula. The lake is a popular local recreation spot and is situated on the Chattahoochee River, which divides Alabama and Georgia.
“This is an extremely safe area,” Police Chief Steve Watkins told WSFA.
Watkins appeared to hold back tears as he spoke with reporters following the discovery of the bodies. He said investigators suspect the vehicle entered the water by way of a beach or a pier. Authorities were unable to specify how long the car had been underwater.
McGhee was taken into police custody following his release from a local hospital. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which is handling the case, didn’t disclose additional details regarding his hospitalization.
No motive has been released in the apparent triple murder and it's unclear what McGhee’s relationship is to the victims. He was charged with four counts of murder due to the "totality of the circumstances and the severity of the crime," according to the ALEA.
“As the case continues to develop and more information becomes available, ALEA will share it accordingly,” a spokesperson for the agency told Oxygen.com.
The FBI, including a dive team from the Houston County Sheriff’s Office and a handful of law enforcement agencies in the region, is also assisting in the case.
McGhee is being held without bond ahead of an appearance in Barbour County Court, authorities said. It’s unclear if he’s retained legal representation.
Anyone with information related to the case is urged to contact Eufaula Police Department 334-687-1200 or its anonymous tip line at 334-687-7100.
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