Four people face up to life in prison for allegedly terrorizing a Sebastian man while he was house-sitting in the Vero Isles neighborhood for his uncle in late October.
Matthew Nichols, 29, of Wilmer, Alabama, the fourth suspect in the violent burglary that alarmed residents of the quiet waterfront community, was picked up in Vero Beach on Jan. 22 on an outstanding warrant and is being held without bond.
Nichols joins the robbery victim’s ex-girlfriend, Amy Jones, 41, of St. Petersburg; Terry Parmer, 48, of Semmes, Alabama; and Gary Miller, 29, of Eight Mile, Alabama, at the Indian River County Jail.
Each suspect has been charged with multiple felonies including burglary of an unoccupied dwelling; kidnapping while armed and masked; aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and third degree grand theft.
Nichols and the others allegedly went to the house on Sea Horse Lane around 11:30 p.m. Oct. 28 to beat up the man who was housesitting.
After seeing his girlfriend with the intruders, the victim suspected she had been kidnapped. However, police say it was all a ruse and she was in on the plan.
The bloodied victim stumbled into the street and yelled for help, prompting a neighbor to call 911.
Jones, who lived with the others at a campground on 108th Avenue in Fellsmere, came to the house that night and made small talk with her ex-boyfriend while smoking a cigarette in the driveway. After about 30 minutes, the two moved to the backyard.
“Immediately after walking out the back-patio door, three men, each with a handgun, rushed [the victim] and Ms. Jones,” according to arrest affidavits filed by police.
The men were allegedly wearing hoodies, hats and bandannas to conceal their faces. They forced the victim back inside the house, threw him to the ground and started striking him in the head and face.
One pointed a gun at Jones and said he would kill her if they didn’t reveal where the safe was, police say.
After telling the men there was no safe in the home – even though one was located later by police in a spare bedroom – the intruders grabbed Jones, ran out of the house and fled in her car. The only items reported missing were the victim’s cellphone and a pocket knife.
Security cameras would later capture the vehicle pulling into a gas station at the 9000 block of 108th Avenue. There, Jones gets out of the car alone and casually walks toward a McDonald’s, police say. She then called the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office to report she had been abducted.
When police arrived in the Vero Isles community, her ex-boyfriend was bleeding from the head and face. There was large pool of blood inside the home and scattered droplets in the living room and kitchen.
Parmer later told police he met up with Jones, Miller and Nichols at Capt Hiram’s Resort in Sebastian a few days prior to the incident. He claimed Jones was trying to get the men to rob her ex-boyfriend at his uncle’s house, mentioning there was likely to be a safe or money, court records show.
Miller told investigations he was now in a relationship with Jones and that she had commented on several occasions that the victim hadn’t treated her right. He told police that he watched as the other two men forced the victim inside the house and hit him. He said Jones and Nichols concocted the scheme to beat the man up.
Jones told officers she met the others while working at a gas station. She said her ex-boyfriend was angry about her new living arrangement and would often argue with her and her companions on the phone. The situation just escalated, she said.
The victim would later tell the police the two were having relationship issues. “Ms. Jones being involved in the attack isn’t outside the realm of possibility,” he said.
Nichols is set to be formerly arraigned in February. The other three suspects have had their cases continued until April. Bond for each is set at $775,000.