GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – A divorced Middleburg couple charged with the murder of a man whose body was found in a burning car in Jennings State Forest on Tuesday was ordered held without bond at a first-appearance hearing Friday.
Joseph White, 37, and Bobbi White, 47, are charged with murder, armed robbery, armed burglary, arson and possession of heroin. Bobbi White faces an additional charge of possession of cocaine. They will be appointed separate attorneys and return for another hearing Jan. 13.
Clay County detectives identified the victim as 35-year-old Corey Lane, of Jacksonville.
Lane’s mother and girlfriend told News4Jax they were too upset to talk about him, but a good friend of his said the victim was the father of five and the family was working to process what happened.
"It's rough, man. When they wake up and don't see their father no more," said Kelvin Allen. "They didn't have to do that to him like that. He was probably helping them out."
A memorial benefit for Lane is planned for Saturday morning at Johnnie W. Walker Park at 2500 W. 20th Street.
The Sheriff's Office said the Whites were acquaintances of Lane. Detectives believe Lane was killed in the Whites' home on Timothy Street in Middleburg and that the couple took the body to the forest in Lane's van and set it on fire.
A citizen called 911 at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday to report a burning vehicle off Nolan Road. Fire crews put out the fire and found the human remains.
Authorities said the damage was so severe that the vehicle's make and model could not be determined. The license plates and VIN were also melted.
According to the arrest report, Lane's family members told detectives that Lane left his home in Jacksonville about 9 a.m. Monday to pick up the Whites and give them a ride to a doctor's appointment.
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith, a former JSO officer, offered some insight Thursday about what's next in the investigation.
"They'll get positive ID and also remove any evidence from the home, because it appears they may have robbed him, and the items they have taken may be in the home," Smith said. "And through interviewing them, one may implicate the other. They may turn on each other."
Joseph White has several previous arrests, including a 2011 charge of being an accessory after the fact in an armed robbery, a 2013 charge of driving on a suspended license and a 2014 charge of introducing contraband into a detention facility.
Bobbi White was arrested in June for aggravated domestic battery.
A friend who attended Friday morning's hearing said the couple divorced seven or eight years ago, but still live together. The friend said the couple has no children and both are unemployed, but Bobbi White "seemed good and happy" when she saw her last week.
A neighbor, who said he just moved in recently, said he recently witnessed an altercation in the driveway of the couple's home.
"This was probably a few weeks, maybe a month and a half, after I moved here. There was a truck out there, middle of the day, nothing suspicious or anything like that -- there was an argument, maybe people get into arguments. I didn't think anything of it, but I don't stick my nose in anyone's business, so I just kept on driving,” Andrew Scoma said.
He said he has two children and the thought that a murder might have happened so close to his home is alarming.
“My sisters live around the corner. There's been a couple instances that have happened in the past 10 years or so, but (it's) definitely an eye-opener that something happened right down the road from me,” Scoma said.