Two 18-year-old boys, from Pulaski, Tn., William Charles Angel, Jr. and Matthew Wood, are sitting in the Giles County jail. They are both charged with 3 counts of first degree murder in the deaths of 38-year-old Desere Thornton and her two sons, 16-year-old Jerrod Thornton and nine-year-old Anthony Thornton. The two teens are also charged with arson, accused of burning down the home of the three murder victims.
One of the teens, Matthew Wood, was burned so badly while trying to set the house ablaze that his mother had to call 911 for emergency assistance. That call was what caused investigators - who had just received another 911 call about a house on fire - to zero in on the teens.
The two 911 calls were placed in the early morning hours of October 23, minutes after a home on Milky Way Drive in Pulaski, Tn. caught on fire.
The first call came in at 1:34 a.m. from a neighbor, Robin Hernandez, of the Thornton's saying: “The house across the road from me is on fire, the woods are on fire.....and there was just some kind of explosion down there.”
The second call came in at 1:59 a.m. from Matthew Wood's mother, Janet Thomlin, saying: “My son just called me and said him and a friend of his was playing with fire and he is burnt really bad and he’s screaming and crying....he said him and a friend were playing with fire, with gasoline, and he got too close and it burnt all of his face.”
The authorities won't release any information on how the family was killed but said that the fire was an attempt to cover up the murders.
Apparently Wood and Angel went to the Thornton's house to look for the 16-year-old Jerrod. Wood was jealous and thought that Jerrod was involved with an ex-girlfriend of his. They all knew each other because they went to the same school, Richland High School. In fact Wood had asked Jerrod's girlfriend, Tessia Tibbs, about it just days before:
Giles County Sheriff, Kyle Helton, said it's one of the worst crimes he's seen.
"It's a small county, almost everybody knows each other and it's just a shock that somebody would commit such a heinous crime....It's tough for the community and it's just going to take time to heal"
According to neighbors, the family had recently moved into the home. Desere Thornton owned a local gym and her two sons attended school just a few miles from the now charred home.
Wood and Angel will be back in Giles County court on December 8th.