An aspiring rapper charged in the Georgia golf course triple homicide knew the two men whose bodies were found bound and gagged in the back of a pick-up truck via a cannabis trade.
Bryan Rhoden, 23, was charged last week after the bodies of three men were found on the golf course at the Pinetree Country Club just outside Atlanta on July 3.
The bodies of two men – Paul Pierson, 76, of Kansas; and Henry Valdez, 46, of California – were found bound, gagged and shot in the back of a white Ram 3500 pickup truck that was abandoned in a sand trap near the 10th hole.
Pro golfer Gene Siller, who was the 46-year-old director of golf at the club, was found shot dead on the course near his cart.
A friend of one of the victims found in the back of the truck told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Rhoden knew Pierson and Valdez through the drug trade.
Bryan Rhoden, 23, was charged last week after the bodies of three men, including golf pro Gene Siller, were found on the golf course at the Pinetree Country Club just outside Atlanta on July 3
Alejandro Guerrero said his friend Valdez was comfortable doing business with Rhoden and that Valdez only worked with a ‘very small circle of people he trusted’.
He said Valdez had no shame about working with drugs and once responded that he worked as a ‘drug dealer’ when he was asked for his occupation by a landlord.
‘If anything, he was too open. Cannabis is medicine, that’s how he looked at it,’ Guerrero said.
Cannabis is illegal for recreational use in the state of Georgia but is decriminalized in several cities, including Atlanta.
Guerrero said Valdez ran a weed dispensary in Orange County, California, where marijuana is legal for recreational use.
Valdez once served times after he was arrested in Illinois in 2004 for manufacturing and distributing 5,000 grams of marijuana.
Police previously said Siller, a married father-of-two, was shot dead after witnessing a crime.
Police have not yet confirmed a motive for the shooting or elaborated on the crime Siller witnessed. It is still not clear if Siller was killed after spotting the bodies in the truck or if another crime was involved.
Authorities have only said Pierson and Valdez were both from out-of-state and had no known links to the area or the country club.
Warrants made public last week reveal Pierson and Valdez were shot to death in the back of the truck. They were found with their hands, legs and mouths bound with tape, according to the warrant.
Police believe the two men already were dead when Rhoden drove onto the green in a truck registered to Pierson, and became stuck in a sand trap.
Siller was shot in the head after he went to investigate why the pickup was on the course, authorities say.
His close friend told Dailymail.com that Siller was shot the second he pulled up in a golf cart to investigate why the white pick-up was stranded.
The bodies of two men – Paul Pierson, 76, of Kansas; and Henry Valdez, 46, of California – were found bound, gagged and shot in the back of a white Ram 3500 pickup truck that was abandoned in a sand trap near the 10th hole (above)
Mourners embrace at a memorial for Gene Siller at the 10th hole where he was gunned down last week. He is survived by his wife Ashley and their two young sons
Charlie Johnson said he understands Siller was driving a cart on the course at the Pinetree country club to ensure golfers were playing at the correct pace during the busy Saturday.
‘When you hear of a truck crashing on the course you’ve got to go in that direction,’ he said.
‘Before Gene even got out of the golf cart, he was shot. So he never made a foot out of the golf cart. The guy just opened fire.
‘Gene appeared to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, there is no other way to explain it. Wrong place, wrong time and absolutely the most unlucky moment in somebody’s life.’
Johnson said he had not spoken to Siller’s wife Ashley, who was ‘remaining very tight lipped’ about the tragedy.
Siller’s funeral was held on Monday.
Paying tribute to his friend, Johnson said: ‘Gene would go above and beyond to be good to people. He’s a genuine person. If you were a maintenance guy cutting hedges or a CEO or the president of the club, he would treat everyone the same. His character is without question.
‘They say golf is a game of integrity. He exemplifies that. He has such integrity. He has always been so nice to everybody.’
Siller was director of golf at the club and a married father-of-two. He is survived by his wife Ashley and their two sons, aged 6 and 7
Police in Georgia say pro-golfer Gene Siller (left and right) was not targeted, but was killed for witnessing a crime in progress
Siller had only briefly dropped by the course on Saturday to remind staff that the driving range would be used to set off fireworks for July 4. He was director of golf at the Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw (above)
Rhoden was taken into custody a week ago and charged with murder, aggravated assault and kidnapping following a five day manhunt.
The gunman fled the scene of the triple homicide on foot and police refused for days to release any details of a potential suspect.
Following his arrest, online records now show Rhoden was picked up by police in nearby Chamblee, some 25 miles away from the course, in the hours after the shootings.
He was booked only July 4 on misdemeanor charges of DUI, a headlight violation, fake ID, driving without insurance, driving an unregistered vehicle and using a license plate to conceal the identity of a vehicle.
Rhoden was released on bond two days later.
He was then taken into custody again on July 6 in the same area as his first arrest and charged over the murders.
Cobb Police Chief Tim Cox has acknowledged that Rhoden had previously been arrested but refused to provide details.
Rhoden, who is originally from Florida, is an aspiring rapper who goes by the name B. ROD. He has recently released his first mixtape titled: ‘MADE IT OUT’
It is not yet clear if police knew he was the suspect in the homicides when he was picked up on the other charges hours after the shootings.
Cox said after his arrest that Rhoden was identified relatively early as the suspect.
Rhoden, who is originally from Florida, is an aspiring rapper who goes by the name B. ROD.
He has recently released his first mixtape titled: ‘MADE IT OUT’.
Introducing it on Instagram, he wrote: ‘I put a lot of work into making my first tape as diverse as possible to show you theres (sic) no limit to what I can do and appeal to everyone! Let’s put it in they FACE! Tellem yo favorite song off the tape.’
Two days before the murders, he posted a video of himself performing that gained more than 10,000 views and wrote: ‘I’M WORKIN, I’M GRINDIN, I’M SHININ & ONLY GETTING BETTER!’
On the day of the killings, he tweeted bizarrely: ‘built for ittt.’
On June 27 he tweeted: ‘why women start of nice *** then get comfortable with you and just talk s*** all day everyday!??? FALSE ADVERTISEMENT!????’
He then added: ‘If you not my b***h…why do we need to talk…EVERY DAYY.’