The Jefferson County sheriff’s office found a murder suspect Sunday, but not a victim, in a homicide that allegedly occurred July 1 in a park outside of Fairbury.
About 30 minutes after the sheriff’s office sent a plea for information to the news media Sunday afternoon, a 911 caller tipped deputies that the suspects were in a residence in Fairbury.
The Thayer County Sheriff’s Office and Nebraska State Patrol helped surround the house and nearby houses were evacuated, Nebraska State Patrol spokesman Cody Thomas said.
A hostage negotiator with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office used the speaker on a patrol vehicle to contact the two people, who came out of the house more than an hour later, around 5:30 p.m.
The initial suspect — Justin “Crash” Crenshaw — is no longer a suspect, Thomas said at 9 p.m.
Jerry W. Gilbert, 25, is now a suspect. He and Caitlyn Grable, 21, were taken into custody. They are both from Odessa, Texas.
Jefferson County Sheriff Nels L. Sorensen said his office received word on the evening of July 4 of the possible homicide.
The Beatrice Police Department was initially told about the shooting, which occurred July 1 Crystal Springs Park, a wooded recreation area about two miles southwest of Fairbury.
Police received the names of possible suspects and a description of a vehicle. A Nebraska State trooper found the vehicle shortly after midnight Saturday, July 6. The driver, Trey Saathoff, 23, of Diller, was questioned and detained. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance, but not homicide. Saathoff was taken to the Jefferson County jail.
The vehicle was seized and a search warrant obtained. That led investigators to the crime scene, where they collected evidence, but they did not find a victim nor a victim’s remains.
The sheriff’s office is looking for more information.
“Facebook and social media has just blown up with this, with a lot of people knowing a lot of things,” Sorenson said at a 7 p.m. news conference. “We’d sure like to know what people know.”
Sorsenson said that “some of the people involved in this” are apparently from Fairbury.
The suspect’s car, a 2013 Silver Honda with Texas license plate number CVZ4221, was not immediately found either.
Officers are still looking for the victim or the remains. If you see something, say something, Sorensen said. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office 402-729-2284 or the Nebraska State Patrol 402-422-1494.
For awhile Sunday afternoon, officers guarded the bank in Fairbury on suspicion that the suspects might try to rob it before they left town, the sheriff said.
(This report was updated Sunday evening at 9 p.m. after more details were provided by the Nebraska State Patrol.)