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Four arrested for capital murder

By By SHERRY DIGMON
Advance Staff Writer
Two Atmore men and a Baldwin County man and woman have been charged with capital murder in connection with a murder that one deputy called a "savage and brutal slaying."
Thomas F. Philyaw, 54, of Dan Hadley Road in Perdido, was robbed of his Christmas bonus, then beaten, shot and burned.
The four arrested are Timothy Keith Flowers, 18, North Main Street, Atmore; John Earl Morrow, 31, North Main Street, Atmore; Kendall Maurice Young Packer, 20, County Road 61, Perdido; Elizabeth Rose Fillingim, 24, Phillipsville Road, near Perdido.
"Robbery is the motive," said Chief Deputy Larry Milstid with the Baldwin County Sheriff's Department. "They had gotten information that he had received this money. They did contrive this plan."
Philyaw had received a $1,000 Christmas bonus from his employer, Friese Hauling in Atmore, on Friday, Nov. 24. He was last seen Monday, Nov. 27.
Milstid said Fillingim went to the door of Philyaw's home and told him she had car trouble. He went to help and Flowers, Morrow and Packer were hiding at her vehicle.
"At that point, when he got there to start work on the vehicle, they jumped him, beat him down, robbed him, and put him in the bed of his own truck," Milstid said. "They drove him to a place toward Lottie, off County Road 47, also known as Mary Hadley Road. They left the paved road, went about 600 feet on a trail through the woods. They shot him while he was in the truck, and they set the truck on fire while he was still in it. They burned his body and the truck."
The vehicle was transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences with Philyaw's remains.
"I believe that evidence will show that he died as a result of the shooting," Milstid said. "He was shot several times with a shotgun."
Philyaw was reported missing by his daughter on Tuesday, Nov. 28. Thursday morning, the burned vehicle was found.
"Once we got out there on the initial report of his being missing, the deputy on the scene found areas on Dan Hadley Road with evidence of a scuffle," Milstid said. "There was evidence of foul play. We put out a BOLO [be on the look out] on him as missing. We started getting some information that there had been some conspiracy to rob him."
The Baldwin County Sheriff's Department assigned five investigators. Working with the Atmore Police Department and the Escambia County Sheriff's Department, investigators located five suspects.
"Some of the participants resided here in Atmore," Atmore Police Chief Danny McKinley said. "We assisted the Baldwin County Sheriff's Department with information. They interviewed several people here at the police department."
Flowers, Morrow and Fillingim were arrested in Atmore Thursday evening, Milstid said. Packer was arrested in Baldwin County.
Flowers was out on bond from the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton. He was arrested Friday, Nov. 17, on Sardis Church Road and charged with domestic violence, third degree. He also had active burglary warrants from Baldwin County.
Saturday morning, Nov. 18, Flowers attempted to hang himself in the county jail. He was treated at D.W. McMillan Hospital and returned to the jail the same day. The date he was released on bond in Escambia County was not available.
The four suspects were denied bond in their first appearance hearing in district court.
"The investigation continues," Milstid said. "There may be a fifth suspect of lesser involvement than the others. This is the most savage and brutal slaying I've seen in law enforcement. They just went after a thousand dollars."