New twists involving a murder investigation in Mobile County--the victim's brother-in-law is now behind bars.
The suspect, 52-year-old Gigada Antoine Pearson was arrested around 4 a.m. Monday, charged with the murder of Stephen and Erica Lankford. Their bodies were found inside their home on Kings Branch Drive in Semmes Friday night after the home had been set on fire. Deputies believe that fire was set to cover up the murders.
"It was a very brutal scene. And these were true victims who did nothing to contribute to their demise," says Lt. Paul Burch with the Mobile County Sheriff's Office.
The Lankford's niece, who was out of town Monday, but talked to us on the phone says her aunt and uncle were very family oriented and were especially close with their two young grandchildren. Stephen worked at the shipyard and Erica was in accounting.
Authorities conducted a follow up search Monday morning at the victim's home as well as at Pearson's. However it was investigation over the weekend that led them to a motive. Pearson's wife was Erica's sister--presumed to be running from Pearson and a domestic abuse situation.
"There's a protection from abuse order in place against him that was filed by his wife. And it's our belief that what happened was a result of him searching for his wife," says Burch.
The order was filed in May and investigators believe Pearson has searched for her several times since then. Pearson has no past criminal record, but there was enough evidence found in Lankford's home to convict him.
"We did locate a number of items of interest to us and those were seized."
Investigators have been in constant contact with Pearson's wife--she is said to be okay right now, but of course they are not releasing her name or her whereabouts. In total, Pearson is charged with two counts of capital murder, first degree arson and aggravated stalking.