Alleged Golf Course Killer, Bryan Anthony Rhoden in Custody
After a five-day manhunt for the golf course triple killer, Cobb County residents are breathing a little easier. Police arrested Bryan Anthony Rhoden on Thursday in the horrific homicides that occurred at the Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw during the July 4th weekend.
Rhoden faced Magistrate Court Judge Don Hicks on Friday evening as charges were read that included three counts of murder, three counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of kidnapping in the shooting deaths of golf pro Gene Siller, 46, and the two victims found in the truck, 46-year-old Henry Valdez and 76-year-old Paul Pierson.
During the hearing, Rhoden was without counsel as Judge Hicks advised him that he would not set a bond at this time. Friday’s hearing occurred earlier than the scheduled 8 p.m. time slot, according to reports, and Rhoden’s attorneys had not been notified of the change and was not in attendance. During the hearing, a video of which was later posted on social media by CBS46, Rhoden told the judge he had spoken to his attorneys. When asked by Judge Hicks about his attorney, Rhoden replied, “I believe they filed the motion or the paperwork they needed to, but they’re just not here right now.” Judge Hicks scheduled Rhoden’s bond hearing for July 27.
Criminal defense attorney Bruce Harvey is the lead on the case and his co-counsel is Attorney Stephen Katz. Standing outside the detention center after learning the hearing had just concluded, Katz expressed concerns that the judge had moved the hearing to an earlier time without Rhodes’ attorneys present, even though they had filed an entry of appearance earlier in the day.
A fast review of prior arrest records show that Rhoden has been in and out of trouble with the law since the time he was a student at Georgia State University when he and another person were shot during what was described as a drug deal gone bad outside a GSU resident hall.
The horror unfolded after 911 dispatchers received a report that someone had been shot at Pinetree Golf Club. Upon their arrival, Cobb police discovered a white Ram 3500 pickup truck near the 10th hole and the body of golf pro Eugene Siller nearby, who had been shot in the head. Police soon discovered in the truck bed the bodies of Valdez, of California, and Pierson, of Kansas, both having suffered “apparent gunshot wounds.” Police suspect that Siller, a husband and father of two, was shot in the head and killed after going out to investigate the truck on the green and stumbled on an active crime involving the other men. The truck was registered to Pierson. In describing what they believe occurred, investigators said Valdez and Pierson were already dead in the Dodge Ram truck bed as Siller was shot when he approached the 10th hole on the course.
At a news conference Thursday evening, announcing the arrest, Cobb police Chief Tim Cox provided details as he described Rhoden as the “lone shooter”. However, Cox declined to say how Rhoden knew Valdez and Pierson or if there was any relationship between Valdez and Pierson. Cox said the investigation was ongoing and did not provide a possible motive for the shootings during the briefing. When asked if they were killed in the area, Cox said, “I believe that would be a correct statement.” Saying that “the successful arrest and prosecution” of a suspect was their highest priority, Cox reflected on the concerns of the community. “I realize that some members of the community felt some frustration,” Cox said. “They felt like they had limited information, and I can respect that feeling.”
It is still unknown at this time what led police to Rhoden. Reports have surfaced that after the killings, a car Rhoden was driving was stopped and he was arrested and held by Chamblee police on suspicion of DUI, fake identification, and other violations later the same day. During his arrest, a large amount of money was confiscated. Rhoden was released but wanted his money returned. He contacted Chamblee police and was lured back to the station with the promise the money would be returned. Upon his arrival back to the Chamblee PD, he was arrested without incident around 5:30 p.m. Thursday by members of the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshals, and the Chamblee Police Department according to the Cobb Sheriff’s office.
In what is described as a case of misinformation, the public was originally advised that police were looking for a suspect in the shooting and described him as a long-haired Hispanic man “With a darker complexion,” about 6 feet tall and 170 pounds, last seen wearing a white t-shirt, dark work pants “and possibly a hat.”
The Club re-opened the golf course on Thursday with the 10th hole closed. The area around it has been transformed into a makeshift memorial with flowers, golf balls, and other items in memory of Stiller.
A GoFundMe organized on behalf of Siller’s family has raised $693,711 as of Saturday.
A private service for the golfing pro is scheduled for Monday.