Jack Elijah Turner is a 21-year-old Pennsylvania man considered a person of interest in the murder of his stepmother and half-brother. The Cochranton resident was apprehended after five days of running from the law. Turner was arrested without incident by U.S. Marshals in Charleston, West Virginia on August 14.
Turner, who was described as a fugitive, was wanted in connection to several crimes including the deaths of Shannon E. Mercier Whitman, 49, and her son Darrin Francis Whitman, 10.
On Saturday, August 10, Whitman’s husband, Scott, discovered the bodies of his wife and son, in their home on Route 198 in Crawford County, according to Erie News Now. Both died from a single gunshot wound to the head, Crawford County Coroner Scott Schell confirmed. The estimated time of death was between 6:50 and 10 p.m.
Authorities said Whitman’s 2009 silver Lincoln MKS sedan was missing. Turner faces a felony charge of theft by unlawful taking for allegedly stealing the vehicle.
Authorities alerted the public that Turner was on the run and considered armed and dangerous. Pennsylvania residents were told to be on the lookout and lock the doors to their homes and cars.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Jack Elijah Turner is Suspected of Robbing a Gas Station
Turner is also the leading suspect in the August 11 robbery of the Kwik Fill gas station in Millcreek Township, Pennsylvania. At approximately 5:30 a.m., a suspect, believed to be Turner, is seen on the gas station’s video surveillance driving up in a car resembling the silver sedan taken from the Whitman home.
The suspect can also be seen entering the gas station wearing a blue and white sweatshirt, matching sweatpants and a black cap.
“The clerk was dealing with that money and had it out,” Lt. Donald Kucenski, investigative services division commander at Millcreek Police Department told the Meadville Tribune said, adding, “so at that point (the suspect) went and retrieved his gun from the car and basically said, ‘Give me the money.” The suspect made off with under $1,000.
2. Turner was Spotted in Florida After the Murders
“The St Johns County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Marshals have information confirming that Turner was in St Augustine, following 3 apparent sightings in the past 18 hours,” the St. John’s Sheriff’s Office Facebook post announced. The alert went on to say that Turner was spotted in the “central portion of St. Johns County, in or near the St. Augustine area.”
Law enforcement described Turner as 5’11” tall, weighing 146 pounds, with a tattoo of a pyramid with an eyeball inside of it covering his right hand, trimmed eyebrows and a diamond stud in each ear. Investigators reiterated he was considered armed and dangerous.
3. Turner Continued to Post on Social Media While on the Run
Turner posted on social media at least five times while he was on the run. In a screenshot of a post that does not show a date, Turner admitted to stealing his stepmother’s car “for safety” but said he did not commit the double homicide. “Just know there will be numerous lawsuits after proven not guilty,” he wrote.
Around the time of the Shannon and Derrick Whitman’s murder, Turner wrote a post declaring his love for a woman several friends identified as his girlfriend, then posted an apology at 10:11 p.m. that began with, “Dear family I’m so sorry…” He once again mentioned his girlfriend and wrote “I’m so sorry I did this.”
Several of Turner’s friends responded to his posts by leaving their phone numbers and encouraging their friend to turn himself in.
On August 13 at 2:51 a.m., Turner posted a 21-second video of himself walking in the dark. Only heavy breathing and crickets can be heard.
The same day, he wrote another post accusing his Facebook friends of trying to claim reward money if they provided information to authorities. The post read, “y’all don’t think I know about the reward? Fuck outta here on that love dovy shit I been through it all an I seen it all more then once I’m deleting my account stay tunned (sic).”
Rumors spread on social media that Turner had killed himself. “That would be news to us. We believe he’s alive — that’s why we’re actively looking for him,” Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz said. “There’s absolutely zero evidence he has harmed himself.”
4. Turner Was Apprehended After Missing a Bus Heading Back to Pennsylvania
Turner was traveling from Florida back to Erie, Pennsylvania by Greyhound bus when he missed his connection in Charleston, West Virginia. He was apprehended at the bus station, taken to the hospital and treated for an undisclosed injury, then transported to the South Central Regional Jail. Turner was arraigned several hours later.
During his arraignment in West Virginia’s Kanawha County, Turner was charged with being a fugitive from justice for the car theft. WSAZ reported that Turner was uncooperative, didn’t seem to understand why he’d been arrested and said he needed a lawyer present. He has not been charged with the double homicide or gas station robbery.
West Virginia authorities said Turner will remain in their custody until he can be transported back to Pennsylvania by the state’s law enforcement.
5. A GoFundMe Account Has Been Started to Help With Shannon & Darrin Whitman’s Funeral Expenses
A GoFundMe page has been created to help pay for the funeral expenses of Shannon and Derrick Whitman. The obituary that appears on the page notes that Shannon Whitman was married to Scott Whitman for 13 years and worked as a CNA at AristaCare.
Her son, Darrin, was described as a boy who liked to “wrestle, play basketball, hunt, fish, and to read.” The family has asked that memorial donations be made to the Penncrest School District in care of the Darrin Whitman Fund.