Frostproof massacre solved

FROSTPROOF — Three people have been arrested and charged with the brutal murders of three men who had gone fishing on Friday, July 17, a murder that Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd had called a massacre.

The man responsible for the killings, identified as Tony “TJ” Wiggins, was described by the sheriff as a career criminal.

“He’s a thug,” Judd said during a press conference today. “He’s a criminal. He’s pure evil in the flesh. He’s wild and out of control.”

In addition to arresting the 26-year-old TJ Wiggins and his girlfriend, 27-year-old Mary Whittemore, detectives also took Tony’s brother, 21-year-old William “Robert” Wiggins, into custody, just a few days after the violent murders of three men who had been planning a night of catfishing on a lake in Frostproof.

Judd said his detectives “worked 24/7 around the clock along with their colleagues, and they have solved the case.”

What Led Detectives To These Three Suspects?

Homicide detectives had identified the victims as Damion Tillman, 23; Keven Springfield, 30; and Brandon Rollins, 27, all residents of Frostproof. Around 10 p.m. on Friday, Brandon Rollins called his father, who was asleep at the time, and said “Help.” Brandon’s father drove to the lake and according to the sheriff, found his son barely alive and Brandon’s two friends dead. The sheriff noted that Brandon was able to speak to his father before he died.

Judd said they were able to trace that Damien had stopped at a nearby Dollar General store to pick up some supplies, and the man behind him in line was T.J. Wiggins, who the sheriff said overheard Damien tell the clerk that he was going fishing with Keven. Robert Wiggins was behind his brother in line and detectives determined Whittemore was also in the store at the time.

“Ten minutes later,” Judd said, “Brandon frantically calls his dad and says ‘Help.’ ”

Detectives later spoke to the store clerk who told detectives that the suspects heard Damion say he was going fishing, and that Keven would be with him. Tony Wiggins was positively identified as the person in the video at the Dollar General.

Detectives believe they followed Damien to the lake, and T.J. Wiggins confronted Keven while yelling “Where’s my truck?” before shooting all three of them. The suspects, Judd said, then “went to McDonald’s and ordered 10 double cheeseburgers and two McChicken sandwiches.”

How Did Detectives Locate the Suspects?

Thanks to tips from the public, detectives found the suspects living on  a parcel of land on Sarver Avenue in Lake Wales in a parked travel trailer, one that Judd said had no running water or electricity. Detectives found two SKS rifles, two Mossberg shotguns, and ammunition for both in a gun safe belonging to Tony Wiggins. Since he’s a convicted felon, he was placed under arrest for possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.

“T.J. is someone whose criminal history should shock your conscious — it does mine,” Judd said. “He has 230 felony criminal charges in his arrest history,” and had been in state prison twice by age 26.

“He’s currently out on bond for breaking a guy’s arm with a crowbar over a fight,” Judd said. “He’s just wild and hostile.”

The search at the trailer also yielded ammunition that was compared to the shell casings found at the scene of the triple homicide. It was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab for testing, and it came back positive. Detectives learned that Whittemore had purchased the ammunition for TJ in Lake Wales on July 9, 2020.

Judd said both Robert Wiggins and Whittemore lied repeatedly to detectives to cover up for TJ, and that their statements of what had happened were inconsistent. Whittemore did admit to purchasing the ammunition while Robert admitted to seeing Damion in the Dollar General store on Friday evening while he stood in line behind Damion with his brother TJ.

Detectives said after leaving the Dollar General Store, Robert followed the trucks to Lake Streety Road in Frostproof, then stayed in the truck with Whittemore as TJ got out and confronted Keven, punching him and yelling at him, and accusing Keven of stealing his truck.

Brandon and Damion get out of their truck, and Robert later told detectives he watched as TJ shot all three victims. The suspects then drove to McDonald’s, detectives say.

Tony Wiggins has been charged with first degree murder and tampering with evidence in addition to the firearms possession charges.

Robert Wiggins was charged with tampering with evidence and accessory after the fact of a capital felony. Whittemore was also charged with accessory after the fact.

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book When I Woke Up, You Were All Dead. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.

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