MELROSE, Fla. – A 30-year-old man was arrested late Thursday night and charged with the murder of two young brothers in Melrose.
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office announced that Mark Wilson Jr. is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of 12-year-old Robert Baker and 14-year-old Tayten Baker.
The boys’ mother found their bodies when she woke up on Wednesday morning, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said. A younger sibling was not harmed.
On his Facebook page, Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach wrote: “...The sick monster responsible for Tayten and Robert’s brutal murder was arrested last night. ... Unfortunately, Robert and Tayten were the ones who suffered whatever was going through Wilson’s twisted agenda. As a parent, the murders of Robert and Tayten are an unimaginable loss to a family. I can’t begin to understand the anguish their parents are suffering. ... My sincere hope is that the death penalty is pursued in these senseless murders.”
At a news conference Friday morning, DeLoach said the Baker family had allowed Wilson, the boyfriend of the boys’ aunt, to live in a shed on their property.
“The Baker family did a lot to help these two individuals and, unfortunately, it ended in the brutal death of Robert and Tayten,” DeLoach said. “We’re grieving, along with the family.”
“When you have a murder with the level of violence that we had in these particular cases, it is disturbing not only to law enforcement and prosecutors but the community as a whole,” State Attorney R.J. Larizza said. “These are some of the most brutal murders that I’ve ever heard about. I can tell you that the defendant, he attacked these kids without mercy.”
Wilson is being held without bond and is scheduled to go before a judge Saturday on the murder charges.
“I’m so sick right now.,” one family member posted on Facebook. “Why would you do what you did to those babies?!?!?! You sick monster!!!! You will get what’s coming to you!!!”
On the Putnam County jail website, Wilson’s last address is listed as Newberry, Florida. DeLoach said the Bakers had moved from Polk County to Putnam County just over two weeks ago to be closer to family.
DeLoach said investigators intend to interview others and are looking into indications other people may have been involved in the murders.
News4Jax found that Wilson has been in prison twice, facing charges including drug possession, car theft, burglary and dealing in stolen property -- all arrests in Alachua County. None of those charges involved violence.
Joshua Washburn lives down the same dirt road, said he never met Wilson.
“I have never seen that guy actually,” Washburn said. “I came down here and seen all the cops ... it was just a whole bunch of unmarked cars.”
The killings were unthinkable to Zachary Littlejohn, who grew up in this small, quiet community.
“Everyone is quiet keeps to themselves. No one really causes any problems and we all know each other. So if anything is happening we contact each other and find out what’s going on,” Littlejohn said. “So this is definitely out of the blue. Never thought anything like this would happen.”