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Son of slain man now a suspect in killings

While police were on the alert in Georgia for a man who might be a suspect in a Zephyrhills double homicide, the big break came over the phone.

The suspect called the police chief.

That phone call on Thursday led to the arrest of Kyle Aric Thomas, 27, in a town outside Atlanta called Villa Rica. He was arrested on an old warrant from Bartow County, Gafor for violation of probation. But Zephyrhills police Chief Russell Barnes declared Friday that Thomas is no longer just a "person of interest" in the double murder.

"He is a suspect," Barnes said.

The arrest was the stuff of television drama in a small Georgia town, population 9,200, give or take.

At about 4 p.m. Thursday, Thomas called to speak with Chief Barnes. The call ended up going to Zephyrhills detective Jeff McDougal, who was working on the case. The job of tracing the call was already under way.

McDougal kept Thomas on the phone and finally the call was traced to a pay phone at a Texaco station along Dallas Highway in Villa Rica. The local police were called and asked to rush to the scene.

It worked. The Villa Rica Police drove up to find Thomas still chatting on the pay phone across the street from the Tanner Medical Center. And with that lucky break, the man who police think is the key to breaking the mystery of the double homicide was under arrest.

"We just rushed out there and arrested him on a charge of violation of probation," said Villa Rica police Chief Ned Watson.

Now Thomas is a suspect in the murder of his father, 54-year-old Craig Thomas, and his father's girlfriend, 45-year-old Irene Rita Martin. Both were found dead Tuesday in the mobile home they shared on Lawanda Loop in Zephyrhills. They had been dead for several days, authorities said.

Kyle Thomas, who had been living with his dad and Martin for a couple of months, was missing, as was Craig Thomas' car.

Both Kyle Thomas and the car were found in Villa Rica on Thursday.

Thomas' ex-fiancee, Jennifer McConnon, said Friday that Kyle Thomas likely was headed to Villa Rica because that's near where his mother lives.

Three detectives from Pasco County _ two from the Zephyrhills police and one from the Sheriff's Office _ drove to Georgia late Thursday. Barnes said they were able to talk with Thomas on Friday. He is being held in Bartow County on the violation of probation charge.

Barnes declined to discuss what they had learned from Thomas. One detective will be driving back to Pasco soon with Craig Thomas' car so it can be examined for evidence.

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