Police have charged a man and a woman in the October home-invasion killings of a Lake Wylie couple who were robbed at gunpoint just months earlier at their Charlotte mattress store, York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant and the FBI said Friday.
Malcolm Jarrell Hartley, 21, of Charlotte, and Brianna Shakeyah Johnson, 18, of Concord, are charged with two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of Doug London, 63, and Debbie London, 61.
Hartley and Johnson were jailed without bond Thursday after a two-state investigation that involves York County deputies, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and the FBI.
Under South Carolina law, because the crime involves more than one killing in a single incident, Hartley and Johnson could be sentenced to death if convicted. Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett, whose office will prosecute the cases, declined to comment Friday on whether he will pursue the death penalty.
The Londons were shot to death Oct. 23 in their home on a dead-end road in an exclusive lakefront neighborhood. The crime stunned the community and had gone unsolved for months. Police and prosecutors acknowledged that the Londons’ neighbors had expressed concerns about their own safety as the investigation dragged on.
For the first time Friday, police acknowledged a connection between the investigation of the killings and the investigation of the May 24 robbery of the Londons at Wholesale Mattress Warehouse on South Boulevard, just south of Arrowood Road.
Police declined to say whether the three suspects in the robbery have any connection with Hartley and Johnson.
Brackett said only that the killings were “not a random act of violence – they are connected to another crime.”
Police and prosecutors declined to describe what weapons or other evidence might have been recovered to link Hartley and Johnson to the Londons’ slayings.
Hartley was convicted of conspiracy to commit armed robbery in 2013 in North Carolina and was sentenced to 30 months probation, according to North Carolina prison records. He was arrested in November on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, records show. Johnson has no criminal record in the Carolinas.
The three robbery suspects have been indicted on robbery and weapons charges under the Hobbs Act, a federal law that targets interstate crime.
Just days after the Londons were killed, the FBI and federal prosecutors indicted brothers Jamell Cureton, 22, and Nana Adoma, 19, in connection with the robbery. Both already were in the Mecklenburg County jail without bond on state robbery charges. During the robbery, Doug London shot Cureton after Cureton shot at him, according to court and police documents.
Police said Cureton confessed to playing a role in the robbery. Adoma admitted to police he was the lookout in the robbery, court documents show. Cureton’s lawyer said in late 2014 that Cureton played no role in the killings because he was in jail when the Londons were killed.
The third man indicted in federal court in connection with the robbery, David Lee Fudge, 21, admits an “affiliation” with the Bloods street gang, according to federal court documents. Federal prosecutors describe Fudge as a “high-ranking member” of that gang.
Fudge already had pleaded guilty in state court in North Carolina to being the getaway driver in the robbery. He was sentenced to probation and was on court-ordered electronic monitoring when the Londons were killed.
John Strong, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Charlotte branch, confirmed Friday that the FBI became involved in the murder investigation because the Londons were victims of the robbery.
“Mr. and Mrs. London were obviously – and it has been well documented in the media – victims of a Hobbs Act robbery of their mattress store,” Strong said. “Obviously, with them being victims of this horrendous act, there was a logical connection that we would become involved.”
Even with the cases being investigated together, police and prosecutors declined to confirm any gang connection to the killing of the Londons.
Investigators are still determining “who is affiliated with who and what’s related to what,” Strong said.
The killings happened around 8:30 p.m at the London home at 5010 Tioga Road, on a peninsula that juts into Lake Wylie. Until Friday, police had released no information – not even an incident report – about the killings or any potential connection to the Charlotte robbery.
The couple’s adult son, Daniel London, was at home when his parents were killed. He was unhurt, police said, and called 911 to report the shootings.
“I would like to thank law enforcement for all of their hard work and dedication,” Daniel London wrote in a Facebook posting Friday. “Thank you for being the heroes that protect our communities. To all my family and friends, enjoy this day. To the media, thank you for your coverage of what happened to my parents. ”
The (Rock Hill) Herald and The Charlotte Observer compiled this report.