A “deranged” man wanted in the killings of four women during a two-state crime spree is dead, and his female accomplice has been arrested, authorities say.
William “Billy” Boyette and Mary Craig Rice, who were being hunted by police in Florida and Alabama, were surrounded Tuesday afternoon at the West Point Motel in Troup County, Georgia, officials said.
The Troup County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals and other police were in standoff with the pair at the motel, about 200 miles away from where the crime spree began eight days ago in Milton, Florida. Boyette was found dead inside the motel room, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and Rice was taken into custody, police said.
Boyette and Rice had been on the run since January 31, when police say Boyette killed his ex-girlfriend, Alica Greer, and her friend, Jacqueline Moore, at a Florida motel.
Police say a third woman, Peggy Phillips Broz, was killed during a carjacking in Alabama three days alter and a fourth woman was critically wounded in a shooting in Florida on February 6.
Before they were caught, police put out dire warnings about the danger the couple posed to communities across Florida and Alabama.
“What we are experiencing is a running nightmare, quite honestly,” Escambia County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Chip Simmons said Monday during a press conference. “In short we have a killer, he is in our midst … everyone, and I mean everyone, should be aware of this, should be aware of what they look like.”
Mary Barbara Craig Rice, 37, was described as a “willing participant” in the brutal spree, and both she and Boyette, 44, were wanted on murder charges. Both Rice and Boyette have criminal records.
“They are frequent flyers,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan told WEAR-TV.
Morgan told the public, “I want to scare you,” saying there are “killers” on the loose and people in Escambia County, along with the surrounding area, including Santa Rosa County, Florida, and Baldwin County, Alabama, should remain vigilant:
Some are saying, ’sheriff, you’re scaring our community.’ I hope I am. If Mr. Boyette and his family are listening, I intend to aggressively pursue anyone that aids, abets or assists in any way in Mr. Boyette’s continued evasion of law enforcement,. We have reason to believe that he’s involved in three homicides to date. For God’s sake, let’s don’t make it four. I cannot overemphasize how dangerous this suspect is. Do not — I repeat, do not — in any way attempt to contact or have contact with Mr. Boyette. Get on your telephone and notify law enforcement. Citizens are not equipped to deal with this.
Police say the pair stopped to buy ammunition at a Walmart while on the run, WKRG-TV reports.
“This man likes to ambush people,” Morgan said. “When you go to work, when you come home, make sure a friend or family member knows where you are. … We’re dealing with an extreme situation here.”
A $21,000 reward was offered for the arrests of Boyette and Rice.
The duo was most recently traveling in a white 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt with the Florida license plate number 9613BJ, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said. The car was found near the motel where the standoff took place.
A Troup County, Georgia, sheriff’s deputy spotted the stolen car parked outside the motel, leading to the standoff, officials said.
Several police agencies, including the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, other local police in Georgia, the Georgia State Police, the Escambia and Santa Rosa, Florida, sheriff’s offices, the Baldwin County, Alabama, sheriff’s office and the the U.S. Marshals Service are involved in the investigation and standoff.
Here’s what you need to know about Boyette and Rice:
1. Boyette Had a Lengthy Criminal History, Including Numerous Accusations of Domestic Violence
Billy Boyette, who police say had a lengthy history of violent crimes and was known to be a drug user, told many people he would “not be taken alive,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan told USA Today.
“In law enforcement we take those threats and those admonitions very seriously,” Morgan said.
According to police, Boyette was accused of domestic violence by girlfriends several times in the past. But on several occasions he was not prosecuted because he threatened them with more violence.
“He is a very violent and dangerous man,” State Attorney Bill Eddins told reporters.
In 2014, he beat his girlfriend because she came home from work late and smelled like alcohol, police said. He told her he would “drag (a trial) out and make her life miserable,” USA Today reports.
A year later, in June 2015, his girlfriend at the time called 911 and whispered to a dispatcher that Boyette had stabbed her multiple times in the arms and legs, strangled her and taken away her phone to keep her from getting help, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.
Boyette was arrested by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office on charges including kidnapping,b attery, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and obstructing justice. But he was released about a year later, in June 2016, when prosecutors dropped the charges against him. The victim could not be found and was facing her own criminal charges, the News-Journal reports.
Boyette was taken into custody 14 hours later by U.S. Marshals on a probation violation out of Santa Rosa County, but he served just three months in jail before being released again.
He was also charged multiple times in the past three years in two Florida counties, Escambia and Santa Rosa, but never served more than a year in jail on those battery, assault, kidnapping and weapons charges.
Boyette’s criminal record dated back at least to 2002. He was arrested in Santa Rosa County on charges of grand theft, drug trafficking, felony battery, possession of a firearm, armed robbery with a firearm, aggravated assault by threat and resisting arrest.
Boyette’s relationship to Rice, described as a suspect and willing accomplice in at least one of the shootings, is not clear.
Rice, of Milton, Florida, also has a criminal record. She has arrests and convictions for driving with a suspended license, failure to appear in court, obstruction of justice, drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and check fraud.
2. The Sheriff Told Boyette ‘There Are 2 Places You Can End Up, Prison or a Cemetery’
Police have said the best way for Boyette to make it out alive is to turn himself in.
“Mr. Boyette, there are two places you can end up, prison or a cemetery,” Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson told reporters. “The choice is yours. The people coming for you are not the unarmed defenseless victims like you have been preying on, they are professional law enforcement officers that will take you off the streets.”
Johnson said, “Our officers are not taking a shot from this guy. The ending is up to him, we’d prefer it to end peacefully, but if he comes out with a gun, we’re not going to take any chances.”
Rice and Boyette had been making their way through wooded areas in the Florida panhandle and have also been spotted in Alabama. Boyette grew up in the area, and knew the woods, police said.
“I’m being told he knows those woods like the back of his hand, so he knows where to hide,” Johnson told reporters. “When you have an armed suspect in a wooded area and you have to send officers in, you have to remember we’re looking for him, but he’s looking for us as well.”
“Sooner or later he’s going to make a mistake and when he does were gonna pounce on him,” Santa Rosa County, Florida, Sheriff Bob Johnson told ABC News. “Hopefully we can get to him before he does anything stupid again.”
3. The Murder Spree Started After Boyette Was Charged With Brutally Kicking, Punching & Beating His Ex-Girlfriend With an Unopened Soda Bottle
Boyette began his killing spree after warrants were issued for him on charges alleging he brutally assaulted his ex-girlfriend, Alica Greer, the Pensacola News Journal reports.
Police said Boyette kicked and punched Greer multiple times, before beating her over the head with an unopened two liter bottle of soda so bad that it split her head open. She was hospitalized and required stitches. The couple broke up after that attack, and Greer reported him to police. Warrants were issued for his arrest.
“He choked her down to the ground, kicked her in the face, hit her in the head with an unopened two liter bottle of soda, so bad she had to have stitches in the top of her head, had to have an MRI of her skull,” Greer’s father, Wayne Lane, told WEAR-TV.
Wayne Lane told the news station his daughter began dating Boyette around Thanksgiving in 2016. The attack occurred a few weeks before she was killed, he said.
“On Facebook, they acted like they were so in love,” Greer’s mother Kim Lane, told WALA-TV. “Then two weeks ago, she called me and said, ‘Mom I’m at the hospital.’ So I go up there and she’s got a black eye, busted lip, cut on her head, cut on her forehead, bruises everywhere. So he beat her. He kicked her in the mouth and knocked her out. When she came to, he stole her car.”
At the time of Greer’s death, Boyette was wanted on five charges, including aggravated assault and kidnapping, because he held her against her will in a motel, Lane said
According to Lane, Greer stayed with family for a few days, hiding from Boyette, but then agreed to see him. He shared his last text messages with his daughter in an interview with WALA-TV.
“She said ‘Dad I’m okay lol.’ So my next question was ‘are you back with that guy?’ And I never got a response,” Wayne Lane said. :That was the last I ever heard anything from that account. So we see those messages and I look at them all the time.”
On January 31, Boyette went to the Emerald Sands Inn in Milton, Florida, and fatally shot Greer, 30, and Greer’s friend, Jacqueline Moore, 39, according to police.
Boyette then went on the run with Rice.
Greer is survived by three young children under the age of 10, her father told WEAR-TV.
“If they find him, if they shoot him, if he’s dead or alive, if he’s in cuffs or a body bag I want to be there so I can spit in his face when they put him in the meat wagon,” Lane said.
“This man murdered my daughter so bad, and shot her so bad, that we cannot have an open casket for her. I can’t even see my daughter one more time ever again,” Greer’s mother, Kim Lane, told WALA-TV. ““She was goofy, bubbly. Her laugh is contagious, it really was. She would do anything for anybody, even if it took her last penny.”
“No one else needs to die because of this man. No one,” Kim Lane said.
4. Rice Has Been Charged With Capital Murder After Police Say She Helped Boyette Kill a Hospital Worker in Alabama
Mary Craig Rice was originally accused of being an accomplice after the fact in the shooting deaths of Alicia Greer and Jacqueline Moore, but authorities have now charged her with capital murder in the fatal shooting of a third woman.
Police say Rice and Billy Boyette killed Peggy Broz, a 52-year-old hospital worker, in Lillian, Alabama. They stole her car and drove it to Florida, according to police.
A GoFundMe account has been setup to help Broz’s family:
Mrs. Peggy was a beloved Mother, Wife, Grand Mother, family member, friend and coworker. She dedicated her life to saving the lives of others and bringing comfort to the sick as a Respiratory Therapist at Baptist Hospital for the last 30 years. There are no words to adequately convey what a loss this is for her family, community and work family. Mrs. Peggy was an active member in her Church and has been described as a staple in her community. She was a wonderfully happy woman who was a ray of sun shine to all who knew her. She was a genuinely kind soul. She was admired, respected and loved by so many.
Fundraisers have also been held in the Lillian community.
That shooting occurred Friday, February 3, police said.
The car was later found, abandoned. Police said Rice was seen on surveillance video at a gas station where she and Boyette stopped for food and supplies.
She has died her hair orange, according to police. Police believe she is a willing participant in the spree.
“The fact that she was seen away from him in Walmart and then came together with him in the parking lot, she’s a willing participant without a doubt,” Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson said.
5. The Couple Then Broke Into a Home in Florida & Shot a Woman Before Stealing Her Car, Authorities Say
Boyette and Rice drove the car stolen after the murder of Peggy Broz to the Pensacola, Florid.
On Monday morning, police said the duo broke into the home of 28-year-old Kayla Crocker in Belulah, Florida, while she and her 2-year-old son slept. Crocker was found in her home Monday morning suffering from a gunshot wound by her mother, who went to check on her after she failed to show up for work.
Boyette and Rice stole Crocker’s car, a white 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt with the Florida license plate number 9613BJ, after the shooting, police say.
At some point Monday they drove to Troup County, Georgia, where they checked into a motel under Rice’s real name, police said. Police later saw the stolen car at the motel and saw a man and woman peaking out of the windows in the hotel.
After a standoff, Boyette fatally shot himself and Rice surrendered to police.
Crocker died at a hospital Tuesday evening, WEAR-TV reports.
A GoFundMe account has been setup to help her family as well.
“We are asking for any help possible to help in her recovery or if the worst is to happen,” a family member, Loretta Crocker, wrote on the GoFundMe page. “She is a mother of two, her son which is two years old and a six year old daughter. we ask for any help you can give and ask that you all pray for her and our family through this very terrible time.”