Roommate faces charges in Harrison killing

Roommate faces charges in Harrison killing

December 8th, 2011 by Kate Harrison Belz , Andrew Pantazi in News

The body of David L. Murray, 46, was discovered Tuesday at 6422 Ware Branch Drive.

A 19-year-old facing charges in the slaying of a 46-year-old Harrison man recently wrote on Facebook that: "I think I'm too nice of a person to everybody."

Joshua Stoltz, of Red Bank, now is awaiting extradition from South Georgia to Hamilton County, where authorities say he will be arrested on charges of criminal homicide and theft over $10,000 in connection with David L. Murray's killing.

Stoltz was pulled over Monday in Murray's maroon Ford F-150 pickup after police in Valdosta, Ga., saw him driving "well below speed limit" and swerving, according to the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office. After being stopped, the truck was searched and he was arrested on drug and theft charges.

Murray was found dead Tuesday, lying in a pool of blood in the basement of a home at 6422 Ware Branch Cove Drive. Murray's sister had called authorities Tuesday and said she hadn't heard from him in several days.

On his regularly updated Facebook page, Stoltz made his last post on Nov. 30, talking about getting something to drink after a long day at work. In the days prior, Stoltz had posted updates about dinner with his family and video games, but had also written about dealing with insomnia.

In a Nov. 28 update he said, "I'm about to start being a complete [expletive] to everybody but my close friends, sometimes I think I'm too nice of a person to everybody."

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said Stoltz had been living with Murray in the large house on Ware Branch Cove for several months.

"When we found Stoltz was missing and [Murray's] vehicle was missing, he was immediately a person of interest," Hammond said.

Hammond said it is unclear when Murray was killed, saying the man was last seen Saturday. Officials have not yet released Murray's cause of death.

According to a statement issued by the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office, a deputy pulled over the truck Monday as it was traveling north on Interstate 75. The deputy noticed Stoltz was "extremely nervous" and asked permission to search the truck. In the cab, she found oxycodone and other drugs not prescribed to Stoltz, and several guns listed as stolen by police in Ringgold, Ga.

Marijuana and meth were also found on Stoltz, records show.

The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office has charged Stoltz with two counts of theft, possession of tools for commission of a crime, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, two counts of possession of a controlled substance and failure to maintain lane.

On Tuesday, after Murray's body was found, Hamilton County investigators issued a nationwide BOLO -- "be on the lookout" -- for Murray's stolen truck, which was quickly matched to the vehicle impounded in Lowndes County.

Sheriff's officials have already traveled to Valdosta, Hammond said.

The sheriff declined to comment further on how Murray and Stoltz knew each other.

Neighbors said Murray was in the construction business and, on his Facebook, Stoltz recently posted that he was working with a contractor.

Lucy Smith, a 67-year-old neighbor who played with Murray's chocolate Labrador McClain, said she had gotten to know Murray, but had spoken very little with Stoltz.

"Josh seemed nice and cordial when I met him, but I didn't really know him," Smith said. "For this to happen to [Murray], it just breaks my heart."

Robert Kozloski, president of Evergreen Consulting, which owns the house Murray and Stoltz were staying in, said he could not comment about the circumstances until speaking with his attorney.

According to his Facebook page, Stoltz attended Red Bank High School. He joined the U.S. Army National Guard in Chattanooga in March 2010 and was discharged May 23, according to Maj. Randy Harris, director of joint public affairs for the Tennessee Military Department.

Harris said he could not release the circumstances under which Stoltz was discharged without a Freedom of Information Act request, which the Times Free Press has submitted.