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Son faces murder charges

Authorities have filed first-degree murder charges against the son of a Zephyrhills man who was found dead with his girlfriend last week in their home.

Police Chief Russell Barnes said authorities issued an arrest warrant late Monday for Kyle Aric Thomas in connection with the killings.

If convicted on those charges, Thomas could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

On Jan. 4, authorities found the bodies of Craig Thomas, 54, and Irene Rita Martin, 45, in their Lawanda Loop double-wide mobile home. Police said they could have been there for as long as eight days.

A neighbor said he saw a vehicle peel out of the victims' driveway about 1:30 a.m. Dec. 26.

Thomas, 27, who is being held in a Georgia jail on a probation violation in that state, lived with the couple for several months.

At first, police called him a "person of interest" in the killings, and authorities searched for him and his father's missing 1979 gray Oldsmobile Toronado.

On Thursday, authorities tracked down Thomas and the car in Georgia, when he made a phone call to the Zephyrhills Police Department that was traced to a Texaco station in Villa Rica. On Friday, Barnes said Thomas was a suspect.

Barnes said he didn't know when Thomas would be served with the warrant or returned to Pasco County.

The detectives who questioned Kyle Thomas in a Georgia jail Friday have returned. The lead detective, Sgt. Jeff McDougal, spent Monday conferring with prosecutors in Dade City, Barnes said. Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper signed the warrant.

"It's not over until the verdict comes in, and there's a lot of leg work to be done," Barnes said, "but it feels good.

"The investigators did a really good job, and we had a lot of cooperation from some excellent agencies in three different (jurisdictions)."

Barnes said he had not seen the warrant yet but that he was familiar with the evidenceit was probably based upon, including the detectives' interview with Thomas on Friday in the Bartow County Jail.

"I'm sure it was a lot of the crime scene evidence," he said, "and based upon statements he had made."

Barnes said authorities still are waiting for the autopsy report on the victims.

The chief said the report has taken longer than usual, possibly because of the nature of the crime.

"I don't know when we'll get it," Barnes said. "As I understand, it was rather complicated."

Barnes said without that report, police still cannot comment on a cause of death.

On Sunday, a Pasco Sheriff's Office wrecker returned Craig Thomas' missing car, the 1979 Oldsmobile, from Villa Rica.

The vehicle was taken to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Tampa Regional Crime Laboratory. Barnes said he didn't know when a report on the car would be completed.

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