DeLand, FL - Following a monthslong investigation, the Volusia Sheriff's Office (VSO) and the State Attorney's Office announce the indictment of three suspects in the murder and robbery of a 21-year-old victim.
Jarius Cook, the victim in this case, was found dead inside of a burning car off of South Delaware Avenue in DeLand back in March, which kicked off the criminal investigation into his death. Almost two weeks after his death, VSO announced a $15,000 reward for information related to his death.
Now, seven months after the investigation began, Sheriff Mike Chitwood and State Attorney R.J. Larizza announced the indictments Friday morning (October 30th) alongside Cook's family. The defendants in this case, who are all charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm, are 17-year-old Cameron Lane, 18-year-old Fredryonna Grimes and 23-year-old Zachariah Sanders.
According to a release from the Sheriff's Office, digital forensics and other evidence gathered during the investigation led investigators to charge all three defendants in the robbery and murder of Cook.
Limited details of the investigation are available, as the investigation is now entering the prosecution phase.
"In all my years of policing, I just can’t understand the indifference to human life," Sheriff Chitwood said at a news conference. "absolutely a senseless, horrific murder of a young man who had so much of his life"
"It just defies logic that a human being would do this to another human being over money, and not a lot of money at all," continued Sheriff Chitwood.
All three defendants were already in custody, all without bond on other charges. Both Grimes and Lane were arrested earlier this year in relation to another shooting death in DeLand, both were charged with attempted first-degree murder. Sanders was taken into custody in May after investigators charged him with tampering with evidence and providing a false report to law enforcement regarding Cook’s murder.
He was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence, on top of an additional charge for violating his probation on prior armed robbery charges.
"We prayed, we cried, and we prayed some more, and we got just what we asked for from the Lord: An indictment," said Vickie Cook Heath, Jarius’ aunt. "So now all we’re waiting for is a conviction, and we know God will do that for us as well."