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A 30-year-old Melrose man faces two first-degree murder charges in the killing of two boys Wednesday. Mark Wilson Jr. was arrested late Thursday night by Putnam County Sheriff’s Office deputes after an intense investigation that began Wednesday morning shortly after 10:30 a.m. when a call came in that two boys had been found stabbed to death at their home at 129 Shiloh Road. Sheriff Gator DeLoach called Wilson a “sick monster” and said detectives very quickly “honed in on Wilson and established this individual was only a threat to those around him.” During a press conference today the Sheriff’s Office said the family had allowed Wilson to stay in a shed on the property in order to help him out. The boys’ mother found her sons, Robert Baker, 12, and Tayten Baker, 14, in a back room of the house the family moved into about two weeks ago after moving to the quiet community from Polk County. The mother and three children were in the multi-family household when the killings occurred. The father is a long-distance truck driver and was on the road. Officers said Wilson was well-known to the family. Autopsies Thursday confirmed the deaths were homicides.
Palatka is losing another top official to Putnam County. At a city commission meeting Thursday Mayor Terrill Hill announced Fire Chief J.R. Grimes had resigned to take a job with the county. The job is the newly named executive director of public safety. Most commissioners appeared to be taken by surprise. Grimes will continue with the city until Sept. 18 and join the county Sept. 21. He served as interim fire chief for more than a year before being named chief. His move to the county comes following the announcement that the county’s Emergency Services Chief Quinn Romay has quit, after being with the county nearly 30 years.
In St. Johns County the reward for information in the death of a bicyclist nine years ago has doubled. The Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday a combined $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of whoever struck and killed Bryan Wrigley on the afternoon of April 13, 2011. Wrigley was riding his bike east on County Road 214 when he was struck by an oncoming vehicle. Debris at the scene led investigators to look for a 2001-2003 blue Ford Ranger extended cab pickup. The driver continued on and the pickup was seen with a bicycle tire stuck to the front of the truck. A witness gave a description of the driver as being between 17-22 years of age. A recent composite picture has been released. Call Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida if you have information.
Flagler Beach’s police chief is now serving as interim city manager following a special meeting of the city commission Thursday. Chief Matt Doughney has also served as the city’s spokesman for 2013 and has a good working knowledge of the city. Need for an interim manager came following the death Sunday of Larry Newsom, city manager for four-and-a-half years. Police Capt. Lance Blanchette will step in as acting police chief. A search for a new city manager will begin shortly.
Both Palatka and Crescent City have dealt with water issues this week. At Thursday’s Palatka City Commission week City Manager Don Holmes reported major water leakage Sunday afternoon began draining 700 gallons per minute from the city system. At one point the water tank level was at 17 feet and the possibility of contaminated water existed. However, crews were able to shut off valves and fix the issue. Crescent City Monday night had water problems that caused the town to be without water. Again crews came to the rescue but in their case a boiled water advisory went into effect and testing was initiated. As of Thursday the notice was lifted after no contamination issues were found.
If you shop at Winn-Dixie in Palatka, Putnam Habitat for Humanity hopes you’ll consider buying one of their $2.50 reusable community bags. Habitat head Ramicah Johnson says during September the grocery company will donate $1 for each bag to the Habitat project unless the customer choses another organization.
Saturday morning the Putnam County Historical Society and Keep Putnam Beautiful are sponsoring a front walk cleanup at the Bronson-Mulholland House, 100 Madison St. in Palatka. The house has been closed by the city due to coronavirus concerns and sprucing up of the property is needed. Due to the weather, the cleanup will be from 8-9 a.m. Bring gloves and equipment.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.