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.
The search warrant used to arrest Matthew Wood and William Angel has been unsealed. It reveals more details surrounding the killing of 38-year-old Desere Thornton and her two sons, 16 year old Jerrod and 9 year old Anthony.
Aside from the two E-911 calls on the night when the two teens murdered their three victims at 342 Milky Way Road and burned the house down, interviews with William Angel and his mother, Jennifer Noller, seem to indicate that it was Matthew Wood who did the actual killing but William Angel was an active participant in helping him burn the house down in order to cover up the murders. Jennifer Noller may also have tried to help her son by hiding the knife used to kill the Thornton family.
Angel and his mother Jennifer Noller were later interviewed at the Giles County Sheriffs Department. Noller told investigators that she observed a bloody knife in the S-10 Blazer and placed the knife under the passenger seat. According to the warrant obtained by WKSR, Angel stated that both he and Wood broke into the residence on Milky Way Road and Wood killed the three occupants with a knife. Afterwards, Wood and Angel carried the bodies of two victims back inside the house from the front yard.
The two teens were also captured on video that night, at Richland Market, buying more gasoline they needed to burn down the Thornton house. It was while setting the house, and a vehicle outside, on fire that the two teens were burned, prompting the E-911 call for assistance.
Both men remain in jail and are awaiting a preliminary hearing. Woods hearing is scheduled for December 8th. Angel’s preliminary hearing will follow or be held the following day.