Police shoot, kill suspect in house boat fire deaths

Police: Remains of 2 people found after boat burns in St. Marys waterway

Published On: Aug 30 2012 04:22:01 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 16 2012 07:11:46 AM EDT
Burned Boat Investigation
ST. MARYS, Ga. -

The man suspected of killing two people on a boat was shot and killed by police officers Wednesday evening after he threatened to shoot them, St. Marys Police said.

Police said they confronted David Trauger, 67, outside the Willow Way apartments in Kingsland, Ga. When they tried to take him into custody, Trauger pointed a gun at the officers who in turn fired at Trauger, killing him. No officers were injured.

This comes just after the Medical Examiner's Office in Savannah determined that skeletal remains found on a charred boat Monday are those of two people, and the deaths have been ruled homicides.

Investigators said they are still trying to identify the remains and determine if they are those of Karen Barnes and Larry Ford, who are both missing.

IMAGES: Boat burns, remains found

Barnes and Trauger got divorced in May. Barnes got the boat in a divorce settlement, and police say Trauger wasn't happy about it.

Barnes moved onto the boat after she said Trauger tried to take it from her on Jekyll Island, and in just the last few weeks, she'd gone to police twice about her ex-husband, saying he was stalking her and even came on her boat again.

David Trauger On Wednesday, investigators spent the day searching for Trauger, pictured right, including in the water where the boat burned. The Camden County Sheriff's Office and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources used sonar equipment in the search, which was called off once the Medical Examiner confirmed the skeletal remains were of two victims, not just one as originally thought.

"In an extremely intense fire of 2,000-3,000 degrees, bones start to deteriorate and become ash, just like when you would be cremated. This fire was that intense," said Lt. Shannon Brock, of the St. Marys Police Department.

Barnes filed two reports with St. Marys police about him in just the last few weeks. On July 26, Barnes told officers she saw Trauger in a Walmart and he followed her until she pulled into a sheriff's office substation. The next day she called police again after finding things displaced on her boat, and workers at the boatyard said they saw a man fitting Trauger's description.

"They said that he came in the boatyard, walked along the back side of all the boats, come down and looked down the river, I suppose to see where the boat was at, and then he left," a supervisor at the St. Marys Boat Yard said. "He was only here for just a few minutes."

In that report, Barnes told police she was frightened of Trauger because of a history of abuse. She told police Trauger said, "I will die on that boat, even if it is suicide by cop." She also told officers Trauger said "he will kill her," according to the report.

It's tough for many in the area to think about.

"I never dreamed that something like this would happen here in St. Marys," the boatyard supervisor said. "It's such a small quiet town."