Sweet appeared in custody for an informal arraignment hearing, but has not entered a plea at this time, according to an associate clerk who was present for the hearing.
Charges were formally read against Gary Sweet on Monday morning, the man charged in a Lake Ozark double-homicide last week.
Sweet appeared in custody for an informal arraignment hearing, but has not entered a plea at this time, according to an associate clerk who was present for the hearing. A case review to determine counsel status, whether Sweet will apply for a public defender or hire a private attorney, has been scheduled for December 6, 2017.
A plea has not been entered, according to the clerk, because the felony case still resides in associate court. A formal arraignment hearing will be scheduled if a judge determines probable cause has been established during a preliminary hearing to "bound over" the defendant to circuit court to face trial. Sweet is expected to enter a not-guilty plea in the case.
The 58-year-old Rolla man is charged with killing a husband and wife at a Lake Ozark campground in the early morning hours of Wednesday, November 8, 2017. He had at least two prior run-ins with law enforcement, Lake Ozark Police Chief Gary Launderville confirmed in a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Sweet has been charged with two counts of first degree murder, four counts of armed criminal action and first degree assault by Miller County Prosecutor Ben Winfrey.
The deceased victims have been confirmed to be Jim and Sheri Parker, managers of the Riverview RV park. Sweet is being detained in the Miller County Detention Center under no bond.
LOPD, along with the Miller and Camden County Sheriff’s Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Osage Beach and Eldon Police Departments, responded to a report of a shooting at 12:36 a.m. November 8 at the campground located just off US 54 and below the Osage River Bridge.
Two victims/witnesses, yet to be identified, were first discovered in their RV by officers and transported to Lake Regional Hospital, but only one sustained injuries from a gunshot wound. Shortly afterwards, investigators discovered the Parkers apparently gunned down in their bed, victims of gunshot wounds. The owners of the campground were out of the state at the time.
The suspect allegedly had more than one firearm, but Launderville would not comment any further. A 16-gauge shotgun and shells were covered by investigators. Approximately two hours into the investigation, LOPD requested the assistance of the Lake Area Major Case Squad which brought between 12 and 15 agencies onto the scene.
Investigators found the deceased individuals lying in bed with apparent gunshot wounds, according to the probable cause statement. They were found in a two-story structure that contained the business office and also living quarters.
LOPD records, according to the probable cause statement against Sweet, indicate he was arrested in October of 2017 for simple assault. He was reportedly evicted by the Parkers during that month, according to the victims/witnesses. Launderville said his department was “familiar” with Sweet based on that arrest and also a civil incident involving a disagreement with other residents in March of 2017.
On Wednesday night, law enforcement visited Sweet at his Phelps County resident at which time he told investigators he was home during the reported shootings, according to the report. However, one of the officers touched the hood of Sweet’s truck and and found it was warm to the touch. Sweet’s cellphone allegedly pinged a Lake Ozark cellular tower at the time of the shooting, the document states, and he was placed under 24-hour investigative hold.
A search warrant was executed at Sweet’s Phelps County residence where a 16-gauge shotgun along with shells were found, reportedly the same kind as the ones uncovered in Lake Ozark, according to the document.
Video surveillance of the campground showed a white male in a green zip-up hoodie exit the living quarters and office and walking around the park before firing into the side of an RV. A hoodie matching the one on the video was allegedly also recovered by investigators.
The investigation is ongoing and will continue for the next couple of days or possibly weeks, though Launderville said there is no threat to the community. One aspect investigators are looking into is if Sweet received any help in being transported from Rolla to Lake Ozark before or after the crime occurred.
The police chief said investigators were considering the October altercation as well as the eviction as potential motives, but it was too early in the investigation to say for sure. Launderville applauded the efforts of the various law enforcement agencies who have assisted and Winfrey, adding that many of them have worked or been up for the last 36 to 48 hours working the case.
He also defended the decision not to release the victims’ names as well as the limited information released over the last two days citing the potential to jeopardize the case.
“Some of what has been posted on social media is true, some is not. We make one little mistake the end result could be someone walks away from this,” he said. “It’s an unfortunate situation, lives have been lost, lives have been hurt. This affects a lot of lives. We want to make sure we do this slowly, methodically and correctly.