A 75-year-old military veteran and his adult daughter have been identified as the victims of a Helena double murder.
Shelby County Coroner Lina Evans identified the victims as Chester “Chuck” Tarwater Jr. and 40-year-old Sharon Tarwater Whited.
They were found slain Wednesday afternoon when a young boy discovered his grandfather’s body in the hallway of the family’s home on Piney Woods Drive.
Authorities continue to search for 41-year-old John Peyton Scott III, Whited’s boyfriend, who is described as a person of interest wanted for questioning.
Lookout bulletins were issued throughout the day Thursday in Jefferson County and surrounding counties, warning officers that Scott was a suspect in a capital murder case and likely to be armed with a long gun and a handgun.
According to the BOLO, Scott was to be considered armed and to be approached with caution. The alert said Scott is known to take antipsychotic and antidepressant medications and known to experience hallucinations.
The bulletins also said evidence found at the scene led them to believe Scott may have been injured.
Police initially said Scott could be driving a red 2020 Ford EcoSport with Alabama license plate number DV47860.
That SUV belonged to Chuck Tarwater and has a disabled veteran (U.S. Navy) license plate.
Later Thursday, police bulletins said Scott also could be in a Dodge Charger with a female.
“Any vehicle stopped with this subject will be treated as a crime scene,’’ one of the bulletins stated.
The family moved to Helena after their home in western Jefferson County was destroyed in the 2011 tornado outbreak. The family was initially from the Pleasant Grove area.
She was the mother of two daughters, who were with their father at the time of the slayings, but she was also helping to raise to her two nephews after the death of their father, who was her brother.
One of those nephews, a 12-year-old, made the horrific discovery Wednesday afternoon.
Authorities said he entered the home about 3:20 p.m. and found his grandfather unresponsive. His grandmother, who suffers dementia, was downstair and unharmed. They went to a neighbor’s house and called for help.
Fire medics initially responded to the home on what they thought was a medical call, but after one look at the scene, they backed out and called for police.
Chief Brad Flynn said a search of the house then turned up another victim, who now has been identified as Tarwater-Whited. Both victims were pronounced dead on the scene.
Authorities have not said publicly how they were killed, nor have they released a potential motive. Alabama court records do not list any prior criminal offenses for Scott, and Flynn said there had been no previous police calls to that home.
Chester Tarwater’s two grandsons were placed into the custody of DHR, though other family members are hoping to bring them home.
The Shelby County Major Crimes Task Force is assisting in the investigation. The task force includes detectives from Pelham, Alabaster, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Hoover and Montevallo.
Authorities Thursday afternoon said any additional information about the case will come from the office of Shelby County District Attorney Jill Lee, per task force protocol.
Flynn said the investigation has been non-stop.
“We will work diligently and non-stop to bring the person responsible for this crime to justice,’’ Flynn said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Michael Nelson at 205-663-6499 or contact him via email at [email protected].
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