POLK CITY (FOX 13) - A week after one man was murdered and another was critically injured at a Polk City home, investigators believe they solved the case, which the sheriff described Wednesday as a calculated robbery and murder by a FEMA subcontractor.
Polk County dispatchers received a call January 3 after drivers near a home on Berkley Road in Polk City stopped to help a man, later identified as Kenneth Maier, waving them down.
The man, they said, was bloody and injured. He told them he was robbed and there was another injured man inside the home.
Inside, William Reiss was found dead, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Reiss’ vehicle, a Dodge Ram pickup truck, was gone.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Wednesday that Reiss met his suspected killer, Gerjuan Jackson, 18, in 2017.
Jackson was working as a FEMA subcontractor and did a damage inspection at Reiss' home after Hurricane Irma.
"He learned at that time that Bill had a collection of firearms and frequently sold firearms," Judd said.
Jackson legally bought two guns from Reiss and then returned to Alabama, Judd said, where he was arrested for carrying a firearm without a permit.
Sheriff Judd said Jackson, along with two other suspects - 22-year-old Kenley Campbell and 22-year-old Darril Lamar Rankin - drove back to Polk City last week with a plan to kill and rob Reiss.
Investigators said Jackson was the shooter and he also shot Maier, Reiss' friend and caretaker, who was trying to help.
“Three killers traveled to Polk City all the way from Mobile, Alabama to steal firearms. William Reiss was shot and murdered, and Kenneth Maier was shot and left for dead. Maier is currently in the hospital fighting for his life. I can’t begin to say how disgusted we are at the depravity displayed by these men,” said Sheriff Judd.
Judd said the suspects stole up to 25 guns, a flat-screen television and the pickup truck, which was found, torched, in Alabama.
Katrina Urso, Reiss' daughter spoke to reporters Wednesday about how she's handling the loss of her father.
"He didn't deserve this and I'm grateful that they were caught and we just start to mourn my dad, grandpa, son, it's unreal. He was a good man," she said. "He was the biggest teddy bear, he wouldn't have hurt anyone. It's amazing to me. I'll always live with 'why?'"
Sheriff Judd says Jackson sold most of the firearms and the television on the street when he returned to Alabama, except for three firearms that were uncovered by detectives.
The suspects were arrested in Mobile and will be extradited to Polk City. They face several charges, including first-degree murder, armed burglary, attempted first-degree murder and grand theft of a firearm.
A FEMA spokesperson said the agency regrets that this happened. He told FOX 13 FEMA relies on the contractor to do background checks. In this case, the contractor was Vanguard Emergency Services. The company has not yet returned a call from FOX 13.
The sheriff said Jackson did not have a criminal history prior to this incident so it would have been difficult to predict the teenager would have been capable of committing a crime such as this.