ATLANTA — A body found entombed in concrete, stuffed inside a plastic storage container, and buried in the back yard of a northeast Georgia home may be that of a missing Florida man, police said Tuesday.
This Oct. 8, 2012 booking photo provided by the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, shows William Joseph Cormier III. Twin brothers Christopher and William Cormier are in custody after investigators unearthed a body that was placed in a plastic container, encased in concrete and buried in the yard of a home in Winder, Ga., authorities said. The remains are believed to be those of a former journalist reported missing from Pensacola, Fla. about a month ago, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jackson County Sheriffis Office)
Authorities arrested 31-year-old twins Christopher and William Cormier and charged them with concealing a death, said police in the city of Winder, located about 45 miles northeast of Atlanta.
It wasn't immediately known whether they have attorneys. Winder police weren't ruling out additional charges. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was assisting in the investigation.
Investigators unearthed the body Monday after being directed to the house by their counterparts in Pensacola, Fla., who have been investigating the disappearance from that city of 30-year-old Sean Dugas. The Georgia house is being rented by the Cormiers' father, who said the sons arrived about three weeks ago from Florida.
Dugas, who used to work as a reporter for the Pensacola News Journal, had not been heard from since Aug. 27, when he and a female friend talked by phone and made plans to go to lunch the next day, Pensacola Police Capt. David Alexander said. When the woman arrived to pick him up at his house, he wasn't there, Alexander said.
Pensacola police said they believe there is a connection between Dugas' disappearance and the body found in Winder. An autopsy revealed the cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the back of the head, and the county coroner was working to identify the remains using fingerprints, dental records and a tattoo on the body, said Winder police Officer Chris Cooper.
The friend who had planned to go to lunch with Dugas says she was told by a man who lived at the house in Pensacola where she went to pick him up that he would be back later. She left a note asking Dugas to contact her, but he never did. She tried unsuccessfully to reach him over the next few days, and when she returned to the house on Sept. 7, it was empty except for a television, Alexander said. Neighbors told her a U-Haul truck was there Sept. 3 and they saw at least one man removing things.
When neighbors asked the man who was removing things from the house about Dugas, he replied that Dugas had been beaten and was going to live with him, Alexander said. The female friend continued to try to reach Dugas before calling police on Sept. 13.
The Cormiers' father told police his sons had arrived in Winder from Florida about three weeks ago. They told him they were supposed to take care of their missing friend's dog but ended up killing the dog and burying it in their father's backyard, police said.
Winder police obtained a search warrant to investigate an area in the yard that appeared to have been recently disturbed. They found the body, which had been recently encased in a plastic storage container filled with concrete.
As a reporter for the Pensacola News Journal from 2005 and 2010, Dugas covered a wide variety of topics, including breaking news and entertainment, and became well known in the community, a story on the newspaper's website said.
"Sean Dugas was funny, spirited, quirky and colorful. He loved the spirit and energy of the news business, and had endless enthusiasm," deputy managing editor/digital editor Kim Thomas, who worked closely with Dugas, was quoted as saying in a story posted on the paper's website. "He was the first out the door to get after breaking news. And he shined brightest in his entertainment coverage, because he loved covering the fun side of Pensacola. He was fun, fearless and creative in all he did. ... We are stunned. Our hearts break for his family and the many, many people who loved him."
Executive Editor Dick Schneider told staff about the possible connection shortly before police announced that they believe the remains found in Georgia may be those of Dugas.
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"Those who knew Sean will remember him as a unique soul," Schneider said in the story on the website. "It was that soul, that spirit, that gave him a fresh look on a story and provided a different viewpoint. Once you met Sean, once you came to know him, you never forgot him. In fact, say his name and you can't help but smile."