Shoals man charged with killing brother-in-law

Published: Jan. 23, 2017 at 10:09 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2017 at 11:20 AM CST
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Robert Eugene Hastings (Lauderdale County Detention Center)
Robert Eugene Hastings (Lauderdale County Detention Center)

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Lauderdale County Chief Deputy Richard Richey said 29-year-old Justin Kyle Merriner was found dead inside his car in a cornfield off of County Road 41.

According to officials, Merriner's wife reported him missing and said her brother, Robert Eugene Hastings needed to go with Merriner to make a drug deal. When Hastings called for her to pick him up her husband was nowhere to be seen and Hastings said that they were in a drug deal that went bad.

"She asked him (Hastings) what had happened to her husband and he said, 'I don't know the guys took my gun from me and I took off running.' So she did go pick him up in the mean time she was questioning him and he would never give her a right answer about where her husband was," Richey explained.

Police said the wife d ropped off Hastings at the Lion's Den in Florence where police kept a surveillance on him while Lauderdale County Deputies went searching for Merriner. Officials learned that Hastings had called a woman in Huntsville to come pick him up but was intercepted by Florence police.

Lauderdale County Sheriff Investigators, Florence Police and the Florence SWAT team were going to make an entry to arrest Hastings when he came down the stairs out of the apartment with another man around 8:30 Monday night.

Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office said this is still an ongoing investigation and they'll continue to follow up on leads and look for more evidence. Authorities don't know Hastings motive.

"We had a very stressful day yesterday, but again they (deputies) stuck with it. They were not going home last night until they got some closure on this case and I commend them for that," Richey said.

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