The Times West Virginian

Local News

February 7, 2013

UPDATE: Investigation into 1974 murders starts following Times WV article

Tampa man arrested for Windmill Park triple homicide

FAIRMONT — The Windmill murders — a true mystery that has plagued Fairmont for almost 40 years — may have been solved with the arrest of a man in Florida in the triple execution-style slayings of three Fairmont residents.

Eddie Jack Washington, 59, was arrested without incident Thursday morning at a Tampa, Fla., grocery store by the U.S. Marshals Service, Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force, Tampa Office.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 2, 1974, groundskeepers at Windmill Park made a grisly discovery: Three individuals lay face up in the dewey grass, lifeless, each shot in the back of the head.

They were identified as Guy Lester Phillips, 20, and his wife, Wanda Jane Phillips, 19, and Billy Ray Cobb, 27, all of Fairmont’s Montgomery Avenue area.

Thursday afternoon, Fairmont City Police Chief Kelley Moran was releasing few details about the arrest.

“We’ve been looking at the case for the past four months,” he told the Times West Virginian from Florida.

Fairmont City Police issued an arrest warrant for Washington on Wednesday.

Moran contacted the Times West Virginian on Monday for information about surviving family members.

“We wanted to notify the victims’ families before the arrest,” he said.

Fairmont police worked with West Virginia State Police, U.S. Marshals from West Virginia, and law enforcement from Chapel Hill and Carrboro, N.C.

He declined to elaborate on how the North Carolina law enforcement was involved.

“We were asked by the U.S. Marshals Service in West Virginia to do a discreet locate on Washington, to make sure he was at the residence where we thought he was without his knowing,” said Deputy U.S. Marshal Ron Lindbak.

“In September, we identified him at that residence,” Lindbak said. “We periodically checked to make sure he was there until the arrest (Thursday) morning.”

He said he was unfamiliar with the infamous murder and didn’t know why Washington was the main suspect.

“I can only assume they developed information on him as a person of interest back in September,” he said. “It took that long to develop enough information for his arrest.

“We followed him from his residence in an undercover vehicle to the store where he was arrested.”

Washington is now being held in the Hillsborough County Jail. He is set to be arraigned on the triple first-degree murder charges at 8 a.m. Friday in Tampa to determine if he will face charges in West Virginia.

“We’ve been working with (officials in) West Virginia since September,” Lindbak said.

The “whole task force” was involved in the arrest, he said.

“We were delegated apprehension and responsibility for Mr. Washington.”

Moran and other representatives from the city and county were in Florida at the time of the arrest, he added.

The arrest warrant charges Washington with three counts of first-degree murder in the execution-style slayings of the three individuals.

Information had recently been developed identifying him as the alleged shooter.

At approximately 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Washington was followed via mobile surveillance from his residence at 2409 E. 17th Ave., Apt. B, Tampa, to the Friendly Meat and Grocery at 1910 N. 34th St., Tampa.

After being arrested, he was taken to the Tampa Police Department for further questioning by homicide detectives.

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