CHIPLEY – More details are emerging in the murder of a Washington County man whose body was discovered near his family’s old farmhouse early Sunday morning.
James Shores, 66, of 2754 Dauphin Rd., was found at his family’s old homestead, located at 2842 Johnson Rd., after the Washington County Sheriff’s Office received information from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation that a vehicle connected to the Saturday, April 19, shooting of an Alabama State Trooper was registered to Shores.
Zachary Taylor Wood, 23, of Hartford and Dillon Scott Rafskey, 21, of Enterprise were arrested for that shooting Saturday, April 19, and are being held in the Genvea County, Ala. jail.
Officers discovered Shores’ body while performing a welfare check of his property and believe the suspects in the trooper’s shooting are responsible for Shores’ death as well.
“Shores came to the farmhouse around 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon to find (Wood and Rafskey) on the property and a ’95 Jeep Grand Cherokee stuck in the yard,” said Sheriff Bobby Haddock. “He advised the men they needed to leave, and if they needed assistance in leaving, he would call the sheriff’s department.”
Sheriff Haddock says it’s believed the suspects were riding dirt roads in the county when they spotted the farmhouse and saw it as a crime of opportunity. Shores was unaware the men had just burglarized the homestead and had loaded stolen items into the Jeep, which had been reported to Ala. law enforcement as being taken without permission by Wood’s girlfriend the previous Thursday.
At Shores’ continued insistence that they leave, Woods and Rafskey reportedly began to beat him, finally subduing him and binding his wrists and ankles before grabbing a garden hoe and continuing to beat him around the head and shoulders. The suspects began to flee the scene in Shores’ 2001 Toyota Camry but returned with a gun from Shores’ car, shooting him in the head.
The suspects then traveled to Alabama where State Trooper Marcel Phillips attempted to stop them for speeding on Geneva County Rd. 57 less than two hours later. After a brief pursuit, the suspects stopped the car suddenly and shot Phillips.
“I feel like they thought they were being stopped for what they had done (in Washington County),” said Sheriff Haddock.
Shores himself was a retired law enforcement officer, having served most of his career as a game warden for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Sheriff Haddock says while law enforcement officers know the job risks, Shores’ manner of death is difficult for him to reconcile.
“They wanted to make sure he was dead,” said Haddock. “And they used whatever was available to do it – first their hands, a garden hoe, and then Shores’ own gun.”
“I’ve been knowing (Shores) my whole life, and as a law enforcement officer of 36 years, you expect things to happen during your tenure,” said Haddock. “But to have something happen as you just come by the old farm house where you were raised – where you should have refuge – I just don’t have the words to describe that.”
An autopsy was performed on Shores Monday, and the WCSO Crime Lab are continuing the investigation with the assistance of the FDLE Crime Lab
Woods and Rafsky are charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer in Alabama and will each be charged in Washington County with grand theft auto, burglary and an open count of murder.
Alabama State Trooper Marcel Phillips was treated and released from a Dothan hospital.