Man sought in slayings in Florida surrenders Final suspect in killing of Howard men in custody

August 26, 1998|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

A man wanted in the slayings of two Columbia residents vacationing in Florida during spring break surrendered this week. New Smyrna Beach police said he had spent the past four months living on a nearby deserted island.

Christopher Trull, 25, of New Smyrna Beach is the seventh and final suspect arrested in the April 16 attack on three Columbia men, who were assaulted with knives and baseball bats, police said. Kevans Bradshaw Hall II, 23, and Matthew Wichita, 21, were killed. Seth Qubeck, 21, was stabbed 17 times and has recovered from his injuries.

Trull was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, for which Florida prosecutors could seek the death penalty.

Christine Neperud, Wichita's mother, said she learned of the arrest from Florida authorities yesterday morning.

"I feel like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders," she said. "When I got the phone call, I literally screamed and raised my arm in triumph."

Police officials think that Christopher Trull has been living on one of the hundreds of small, overgrown, mosquito-infested islands off the mainland that are surrounded by shallow water.

Officials said they had surveyed that area but had failed to spot Trull. Officials say they believe that others helped him evade authorities.

Trull refused to say anything during his arrest and first court appearance yesterday, except to request an attorney.

Police said the fight that led to the killings began when the Columbia men went to the aid of a woman who was being harassed by a group of Florida men in New Smyrna Beach, south of Daytona Beach. The Florida men are accused of returning hours later and attacking the Columbia residents.

Trull's brothers Jonathan, 27, and Joshua, 18, are also charged with first-degree murder. The state's attorney's office said last month that it will seek the death penalty for them.

Two of the seven suspects are cooperating with authorities, according to New Smyrna Beach police. Daniel Beard, 17, who is charged with attempted first-degree murder, will enter a plea tomorrow. Daniel Stephan Osborne, 19, gave a statement in June and pleaded guilty to the charge of principal to attempted first-degree murder.

The others awaiting trial are Neil Kirkland, 20, charged with attempted first-degree murder, and James Kirkland, 22, charged with aggravated battery.

Pub Date: 8/26/98

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