A 30-year-old man who was invited to live on a family’s property in northeast Florida has been charged with the “brutal” premeditated first-degree murders of their two young sons, ages 12 and 14, officials said Friday.
“I can tell you, I’ve been working in the criminal justice system since 1980 and these are some of the most brutal murders that I’ve ever heard of,” State Attorney R.J. Larizza said during a news conference Friday. “He attacked these two kids without mercy.”
Putnam County Sheriff H.D. “Gator” DeLoach said Wilson used a knife and a hammer in the attack. Both weapons have been recovered, he said.
Mark Wilson Jr. was arrested on Thursday night, less than 48 hours after the bodies of Robert Baker, 12 and Tayten Baker, 14, were discovered in the home by the mother, said DeLoach.
The family had moved from Polk County to Melrose, which is south of Jacksonville, 16 days ago to be closer to family, the sheriff said. The Bakers invited Wilson and his girlfriend to live in a shed on their property.
“They did a lot to help them and, unfortunately, it ended in the deaths of Robert and Tayten,” the sheriff said.
Wilson has an extensive history of drug and property crimes, but had no previous arrests for violent crimes. Investigators are still working to determine the motive for the killings, DeLoach said, adding that they’ve already uncovered “significant” evidence in the case.
The boys’ mother and a younger sibling weren’t injured in the attacks, the sheriff said. Their father is a long distance truck driver and was not home at the time.
A GoFundMe account set up for the family has almost met the goal of $8,000 in one day to help with the boys’ funeral expenses.
“Tayten and Robert were good kids who were loved by everyone. They loved playing video games, swimming and hanging out with their family. They had dreams and goals for their life that they will never be able to fulfill,” according to the fundraiser page.
Wilson is expected to have a first appearance hearing on Saturday. Court records did not list an attorney for Wilson.
--By FREIDA FRISARO, Associated Press