Tricia Freeman, 47, who was reported missing by friends, was killed by her daughter’s boyfriend, the Palmetto Police Department announced in a dramatic early Sunday morning press conference.
Roy Nichols Jr., 26, who was arrested early Saturday in a West Virginia truck stop along with Freeman’s daughter, Kayla Colyer, 21, confessed to killing the Palmetto resident, Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler said.
Nichols Jr. faces a second-degree murder charge, and Colyer will be charged as an accessory to murder after the fact, Tyler said.
The extradition process for the pair from West Virginia will begin Monday by the state of Florida, Tyler added.
During his interview, Nichols Jr. said that he had gone to Freeman’s Palmetto home Tuesday without Colyer, and Freeman said something, “set him off,” according to Tyler.
Nichols Jr. then told detectives he killed Freeman during an ensuing struggle, Tyler added.
Tyler would not comment on the manner of Freeman’s death.
“This is a tragic outcome,” said Tyler, who thanked the friends of Freeman who recognized something was wrong in Freeman’s life and called police Wednesday.
“Her friends cared enough to notify us,” added Tyler, who was flanked by two of his captains, Mike Stinson and Stephen Greer.
Nichols Jr. has been in trouble with the law before, but not for violence like this, Tyler said.
“He has a criminal history, but nothing of this magnitude,” Tyler said.
Nichols Jr. and Colyer drove north in Freeman’s car after her murder on Tuesday and were apprehended Saturday in Cabell County, W.Va., when a clerk working at the store recognized them from a news broadcast and alerted authorities, Tyler said.
Once in custody, the pair were interviewed by Ashland, Ky., detectives who had discovered Freeman’s abandoned car in one of their parks Thursday and, after getting a warrant, discovered blood inside the car.
After their arrest, Nichols and Colyer told authorities where they dumped Freeman’s body.
A search for Freeman’s body started late Saturday and continued Sunday, Tyler said.
Tyler declined to say where the pair said the body might be, other than to say it’s somewhere in Florida.
Freeman wouldn’t abandon her dogs
People report adults missing all the time, and often it’s just because the person needed some space and went away on their own, Tyler said.
But in Freeman’s case, she just wouldn’t abandon her home filled with small dogs she raised, Tyler said.
“Those dogs were her world,” Tyler said. “That gave us concern.”
Tyler did not know the motive for the murder or why, exactly, Nichols Jr. visited Freeman at her home Tuesday without Colyer.
Nichols Jr. and Freeman knew each other through Colyer, who lived off and on with her mom and visited her in Palmetto, Tyler said.
“Kayla had stayed with her mom fairly recently,” Tyler said. “Kayla would often visit her mom and Nichols Jr. would be with her so Ms. Freeman was familiar with Nichols Jr. and he was familiar with her.”
Neither Colyer nor Nichols Jr. had a Palmetto address, Tyler said. Colyer’s Florida driver’s license is from Dade City and Nichols Jr. elsewhere in Florida.
“They were kind of transient,” Tyler said. “They kind of moved back and forth between family and friends.”
Freeman was estranged from her father, who does not live in the area, and Freeman had no other family in Palmetto, according to Tyler.
“They had a difficult relationship from what we understand,” Tyler said of Freeman and Colyer.
OnStar helped track the Sonic
On Thursday, Palmetto police initiated a nationwide “be on the look out” for Freeman’s green 2016 Chevrolet Sonic.
Since Freeman had the OnStar service, the Sonic was able to be tracked, which aided authorities, Tyler said.
“Early on, probably starting late Thursday or Friday, we obtained Ms. Freeman’s cell phone records and that also helped let us know they were moving north,” Tyler added.
Timeline of a murder
Tuesday, March 14: Tricia Freeman murdered in her Palmetto home. Freeman’s body was then placed in the trunk of her green 2016 Chevrolet Sonic by Roy Nichols Jr. and Freeman’s daughter, Kayla Colyer. Later that day, Nichols Jr. and Colyer dumped Freeman’s body in Florida and headed north toward Kentucky.
Wednesday, March 15: Concerned friends of Freeman contact Palmetto Police Department after not hearing from her since Monday, March 13.
Thursday, March 16: Palmetto PD initiates nationwide “be on the look out” for the Chevy Sonic, which is then located that evening in Ashland, Ky.
Friday, March 17: The Ashland PD obtains a warrant to search Freeman’s car and discovers human blood in several spots.
Saturday, March 18: Nichols Jr. and Colyer are arrested in West Virginia. Nichols Jr. confesses to Freeman’s murder, and the search starts for Freeman’s body in Florida.
Sunday, March 19: Friends of Freeman in Palmetto are notified of her death by Palmetto PD.
Information supplied by Palmetto Police Department