Three men from Mobile have been charged with murdering a man in Florida and stealing an extensive gun collection after one of the suspects met the victim doing work for FEMA.
On Jan. 3, William Reiss, 68, and his roommate, Kenneth Maier, were shot multiple times inside a residence in Polk City, Florida. Reiss died at the scene, but Maier was able to flag down a ride to the hospital. A week later, he is still said to be in “extremely critical” condition.
What happened after the shooting, according to police, was a calculated robbery conducted by three men who’d driven more than seven hours from Mobile to target Reiss and an extensive collection of firearms he amassed over a number of years.
On Wednesday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd identified those three suspects as Kenley Campbell, 22; Darril Lamar Rankin Jr., 22 and Gerjuan Demarcus Jackson, 18 — all of whom were arrested in the city of Mobile within the last week.
Based their investigation and admissions of the suspects, Jackson had met Reiss while conducting a damage estimate last year after Hurricane Irma. Allegedly, police have located an official FEMA contractor identification number for Jackson.
During that time, police say Jackson had purchased two handguns from Reiss, who was an avid collector of firearms who purportedly sold them on occasion as well.
Police say all three suspects traveled in Campbell’s Chevrolet Sonic to Reiss’ home in Polk City and arrived on the afternoon on Jan. 3. Jackson, who had previously met Reiss, went inside the home while Campbell and Rankin stayed in the car, according to a press release.
Police say Jackson, the youngest of the three, admitted to firing several gunshots that ultimately killed Reiss and seriously injured Maier that afternoon.
The others assisted Jackson in loading nearly 30 firearms from the victim’s collection into their vehicle and into a pickup truck that was stolen from the scene — one Jackson says he took to a wooded area and set on fire when they arrived back in Mobile.
During the investigation detectives found six firearms, an extensive amount of ammunition, electronic devices and clothing believed to be worn by the suspects during the incident in two of the suspects’ home.
Only three of these firearms are from the victim’s stolen collection, though, as Jackson reportedly told police the others had already been “sold on the street.”
When the investigation led Polk County investigators to Mobile, Judd said the Mobile Police Department began assisting along with the U.S. Marshals. Campbell and Rankin were arrested Saturday, and Jackson was taken into custody on Tuesday.
All three were hit with a litany of charges including first-degree murder, attempted murder, armed burglary with an assault, 13 counts of grand theft of a firearm, robbery with a firearm, conveyance burglary and grand theft of a motor vehicle.
Announcing the arrests Wednesday, Judd did not mince words about “the depravity displayed” by these “killers” — vowing to see all three prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.“These folks are done,” he said. “These folks are vicious, calculated murderers, and our goal is to make sure they never walk the face of the earth freely again where they’ll have the opportunity to murder others.”
All of three of the suspects have previous charges in Mobile County.
Campbell has previous charges for fraudulent use of a credit card and parole violations, while Rankin has prior arrests for possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest, attempting to elude police and shoplifting.
Local court and jail records indicate Jackson was actually facing multiple charges filed shortly after he returned from working with FEMA when the murder occurred including
possession of cannabis and carrying a firearm without a permit.
A hearing related to that arrest was scheduled on Jan. 11, though it’s unclear how these new charges might affect that. Judd told reporters all three suspects would have to be extradited from Alabama to face charges in Florida, though they can challenge that extradition in court.
More important locally, Judd said his investigators nor police in Mobile have been able to track down several of the weapons Jackson said were “sold on the street” here.
“There’s a possibility that Mobile has approximately another 15 to 20 firearms on the street, and they didn’t go to Sunday school teachers,” he said. “They went to criminals and the criminal element and will most likely show up at some point in time in and around Mobile or maybe even across the United States.”
Judd also praised MPD for its assistance with the investigation and in the arrest of all three suspects. With a number of unsolved murders already on the plate of local investigators, Judd said their work on the case “was remarkable.”
“The Mobile Police Department has their own caseload,” Judd said. “They’ve actually got significantly more homicides than we do, but they stopped their work to help us and I can’t say enough about that.”
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