FDLE assists Union County in Murder Arrests


JANUARY 7, 2012 -- 3:00PM

On Friday, January 6, 2012 at approximately 8:30AM, Union County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a Home Invasion and Aggravated Battery with a fully engulfed fire at the William and Connie Couch’s residence located on N.E. 118th Street, Lake Butler.  Sheriff’s Office, EMS & Fire units arrived to find a travel trailer fully engulfed in flames and a white male victim of an Aggravated Battery. 
Investigation revealed that two Black Males and another unknown suspect came onto the property and entered the residence. They found the husband, William Lee Couch, 69 years old, outside the home and forced him into the travel trailer. They proceeded to beat him and possibly stab him numerous times. Suspects pulled the wife, Connie S. Couch, 39 years old, out of bed and struck her in the face. They were demanding money and valuables from the homeowners, which stemmed from a previous dispute over a driveway construction job from Thursday, January 5, 2012. William Couch was immediately transported to Shands UF of Gainesville where he died during surgery from his injuries. Connie Couch suffered minor injuries. A 3 year old child was present in the home but was uninjured. After the suspects dragged the husband out of the travel trailer, they then set fire to it. Department of Correction RMC K-9 units were called to assist in evidence collection and tracking.
Suspects fled the residence after stealing the victim’s gold colored Chevrolet Equinox and headed toward Bradford County. Union County Investigators met up with Bradford County Sheriff’s Office and Starke Police Department Officers to located two suspects and evidence to tie them to the crime. The victim’s vehicle was recovered burnt in Bradford County.
Investigators from Florida Department of Law Enforcement (Gainesville and Jacksonville Offices) as well as FDLE Crime Lab units (Jacksonville and Tallahassee Offices) were on scene and working the investigation alongside Union County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators from the State Fire Marshall assisted with the travel trailer and vehicle arsons. Two suspects were identified as persons of interests and detained while being interviewed by investigators. Search warrants were also obtained on numerous properties within Starke, Florida. Investigators with Union County Sheriff’s Office and FDLE worked into the early morning hours of Saturday, interviewing suspects and witnesses.
Union County Sheriff’s Office and FDLE investigators have arrested and charged three suspects.
Suspect: Michael Lynn Pierce Jr. of Starke, FL– Black Male DOB: 03-02-1985 was identified by the victim. 
Suspect: Lavar Monte Thompson of Starke, FL – Black Male DOB: 03-16-1980. Both have been arrested and charged with Murder, Home Invasion Robbery, Kidnapping, Arson, and Grand Theft Auto – all Felony crimes. Both suspects have been First Appeared and being held under NO BOND. Michael Lynn Pierce Jr. will be held in the Union County Jail and Lavar Monte Thompson will be held in the Bradford County Jail. Both suspects have confessed to their part in the charged crimes.
A third suspect was arrested in connection with these crimes. Amanda Lee Jeffery of Raiford, FL - White Female DOB: 03-02-1981. She has been charged with Principal to wit Murder, Principal Arson, Principal Kidnapping, Principal Grand Theft Auto, and Principal Home Invasion. She is awaiting First Appearance in the Bradford County Jail and then will be transferred and held in the Baker County Jail. 
Sheriff Jerry Whitehead stated, “This is a horrendous crime and our thoughts and prayers go out to the Couch family. Thank you to the many agencies that worked together to bring these suspects to justice.”
Investigation continues and other charges could be pending. If you have any information related to the above crimes contact Major Garry Seay at 386-496-2501.
Released by:
Lt. Lyn Williams
Public Information Officer
Union County Sheriff’s Office