THE theft of an illegal firearm is the suspected motive in the murders of two men found in a burnt vehicle in the Rio Claro forest on Tuesday.
A senior homicide investigator told the Express yesterday that police received information that the two men - believed by police to be Shiffie Roberts and his uncle Patrick Nelson - may have paid with their lives over an accusation of a stolen illegal gun.
Police suspect that Roberts was the target and Nelson was "collateral damage". DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) testing is to be done on samples from the burnt bodies to confirm the identities. Nelson had no criminal record, police said.
Roberts, 29, of Rio Claro, and Nelson, 60, of Guayaguayare Road, who is Robertsís uncle, were last seen at around 7.30 a.m. by a friend of theirs at Libertville, Rio Claro. Police believe that Roberts was giving Nelson a lift home when they were ambushed.
Pathologist Dr Hughvon Des Vignes found that both men sustained multiple gunshot wounds before their bodies were burnt in a Datsun pick-up van owned by Roberts.
Roberts was charged with murder in 2003 but found guilty of manslaughter in 2009. Two years later he was freed after appealing the case.
Police said Roberts had a pending case with another person in the Rio Claro Magistratesí Court of shooting with intent at Zita Wilson, 65, of Khandan Road, Rio Claro. Wilson was shot dead in October in her home, two weeks after her son was also gunned down.
Robertsís case was to be called later this month.