Investigators: Union County couple beaten for nearly an hour

Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 12:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 8:31 p.m.

The brutal attack that left a Union County man dying and his wife injured went on for nearly an hour on Friday, authorities said. At one point, one of the victims was beaten in the head with his own tool, they said.

New details emerged Tuesday in the assault that left William Couch, 69, clinging to life and his wife, Connie Sue Couch, 39, hurt.

William died later in surgery at Shands at the University of Florida.

Based on evidence and statements from the suspects, Union County Sheriff Jerry Whitehead gave this account of an attack that officials believe was connected to a dispute over payment for a driveway paving project.

He said Amanda Jeffery, 30, of Raiford, drove two men to the house at Northeast 118th Street at around 8:30 a.m. but never got out of the vehicle.

The two men — Michael Lynn Pierce Jr. of 26 and Lavar Monte Thompson, 31, both of Starke — entered the house and tied up the couple, officials said.

Investigators said that while robbery was the motive for the crime, the attack appeared to involve a dispute Couch had with a crew that paved his driveway Thursday. One of the suspects was on that paving crew, they said.

The men led the couple to the Couches’ camper where they held them captive while continuing to beat William Couch.

Whitehead said one of the men confessed to picking up a tool off Couch’s work desk and using it against him.

“But we haven’t found the murder weapon yet,” he said.

A preliminary report from the Medical Examiner’s Office indicated the tool may have had threading marks or other close indentations on it, Whitehead said. Blunt force trauma to the head was the cause of a man’s death, according to the sheriff.

Investigators said they don’t think Connie Sue Couch was badly injured because their 3-year-old daughter was nearby.

The intruders ransacked the house, burned down the camper then stole the couple’s Chevrolet Equinox, which was found later burned near a cemetery in Bradford County.

Whitehead said the three suspects are being held at separate jails in rural North Florida.

Pierce and Thompson were arrested on charges of murder, home-invasion robbery, kidnapping, arson and grand theft auto.

Jeffery was arrested on charges of principal to murder, kidnapping, arson, grand theft auto and home-invasion robbery for aiding and assisting in the crimes.

No decisions had been made by Tuesday on whether to seek the death penalty for any of those charged in the case. Whitehead and his investigators plan to meet later this week with State Attorney Bill Cervone and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents to review the evidence.

While the investigation into the attack continues, Connie Crouch is working on plans to take her husband back to Ohio to be buried later this month, according to Whitehead.

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