3 arrested in connection with Cherokee County quadruple homicide

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Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 8:49 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 6:45 PM CDT
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CHEROKEE COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Three men have been arrested in connection with the shooting deaths of four people in New Summerfield.

Sheriff Brent Dickson said the three men, Dylan Welch, 21, Billy Phillips, 37, and Jesse Pawlowski, 20, all of Jacksonville, were arrested Tuesday night and are charged with capital murder. All three are being held at $1 million bonds.

Dickson also released the names of the four victims: John Clinton, 18, Jeff Gerla, 47, Ami Hickey, 39, and Amanda Bain, 39.

Dickson said investigators received information on a house in the 200 block of Devereaux Street and began watching it. At some point, two men left and were stopped and taken into custody on unrelated charges. After talking to the two suspects, investigators gathered enough information to arrest a third man at the house.

Investigators were able to get a search warrant in the 1000 block of West Rusk Street in Jacksonville. There, they found the suspect vehicle and a handgun believed to be used in the murders.

Investigators also searched a home in the 9100 block of Highway 79 in Jacksonville and recovered more stolen items. Dickson said the three stole guns and clothes from the home.

According to an arrest affidavit, Pawlowski was an acquaintance of Clinton and Gerla and interviewed with investigators. Pawlowski had learned Clinton and Gerla had multiple guns, including a handgun which Clinton wanted to sell for $500. Pawlowski said he introduced Phillips to Clinton and Pawlowski agreed to facilitate the purchase of the gun, though Pawlowski said he, Phillips and Welch conspired to steal the gun from Clinton. Pawlowski said he texted Phillips to come to the home home to pick him up and steal the gun. Pawlowski said Phillips and Welch arrived a short time later and Pawlowski and Clinton walked to the end of the driveway to meet them.

Pawlowski said Phillips then took the gun from Clinton and then shot Clinton “in the back of the head.” Pawlowski then said he, Phillips and Welch then entered the home and Phillips shot Gerla, Bain and Hickey. Pawlowski said Phillips and Welch stole two shotguns from the home before leaving. Pawlowski said he then returned to Clinton’s body and removed the key to the Dodge Challenger from Clinton’s pocket and left the home with the Challenger.

Pawlowski said he then left the Dodge Challenger near a metal building in Jacksonville so that he could sell it later. He said he also left the gun there. He also said he and Phillips turned a cellphone, stolen from the home, into a kiosk at Walmart for a cash payment.

The affidavit states Pawlowski was consistent with information gained from detailed crime scene processing efforts. The affidavit states Phillips denied any involvement in the murders or being present when they were committed.

Dickson said District Judge Chris Day signed the capital murder warrants.

The sheriff’s office also released the 911 call from the moment the crime was reported.

Previous story: Vehicle recovered, 2 suspects being questioned in Cherokee County quadruple homicide

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