Boat manufacturer: Suspect would have known how to burn boat | News

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Boat manufacturer: Suspect would have known how to burn boat

ST. MARYS, Ga. -- The St. Marys Police Department has released more details in a double homicide/arson case involving two skeletons found on a burned boat Monday, and a suspect who was killed Wednesday.

The boat belongs to Karen Barnes, who has been missing and is David Trauger's ex-wife. Larry Ford, who owns a boat that was located near Barnes' boat, has also been missing.

Trauger was killed by police on Wednesday.

Barnes and Ford may have been on the boat when the fire started, but the SMPD earlier this week said there is no confirmation the two are deceased.

Lt. Shannon D. Brock of SMPD released more details of the timeline of events surrounding the investigation thus far:

A 911 call was received at 3:20 a.m. Monday from Barnes' phone, which was recognized by a St. Marys on-duty officer from two previous reports in July, according to a release from SMPD. All that could be heard on the call was the sound of an altercation.

As a result, the officer knew where Barnes lived; at the St. Marys boat yard anchored to a trawler in the North River. The boat was on fire when the officer arrived.

While the blaze was being fought, police were made aware that Ford was an acquaintance of Barnes'; he would pick her boat up with a dinghy and bring her to shore with him. Police were not able to locate Ford.

Around the same time, a BOLO (be on the look out) was issued for Trauger and his vehicle due to the history of violence between Trauger and Barnes, according to the release.

Trauger's red Ford Sport-Trak, was located by a Kingsland Police Department officer near Interstate 95 and Georgia exit 1 at a Wilco-Hess fuel station. Search warrants were issued later on Monday and documents that included information such as the re-naming of a beneficiary of his estate and instructions to people to pay bills.

A search warrant was also executed at Trauger's apartment at the Willow Way complex on Monday afternoon. At the same time, a suspicious boat was shown to a St. Marys police officer by a resident. It contained .22 caliber bullets and concrete blocks and was 3/4 full of water due to having no drain plug, appearing that the person was trying to sink the boat.

The .22 bullets matched shells found in Trauger's vehicle earlier that day, according to the release.

While investigators were recovering the boat, it was found that the same towing service towed Trauger's truck from a dirt road near I-95 and Georgia exit 1.

Police searched this area by air and ground on Tuesday, which was behind the Wilco-Hess fuel station. A pistol holster, rolled up dollar bills and a flashlight were found on a nearby path, the release stated.

Investigators found that Trauger was seen by witnesses two different times on Tuesday. The search for him continued into Wednesday.

On Wednesday, it was also revealed that the skeletal remains found on the burned boat were of two bodies, not just one. Investigators also contacted the manufacturer of Barnes' boat, which she was awarded in her divorce from Trauger.

The manufacturer said it had features that kept it from easily burning and "if anyone would have known how to burn the boat, David (Trauger) would." This statement elevated Trauger from "person of interest" to "prime suspect," the release stated.

Police suspected that Trauger was hiding between I-95 mile markers 1 and 3, trying to move toward his apartment. He was spotted walking on Gross Road and law enforcement worked to set up a perimeter.

He was spotted by Camden County deputies and a Kingsland police officer on the east perimeter of his apartment complex. They tried to get Trauger to surrender, but he raised a weapon instead and fired in the officers' direction.

After this, officers struck and killed him. This officer-involved shooting is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The remains found on the burned boat are still being investigated.


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