Burke County Sheriff: Malice Murder Charge for Steven James Murray

Photo of Steven James Murray (left) and Father Rene Robert.
Photo of Steven James Murray (left) and Father Rene Robert.

***UPDATED at 7:36 P.M. on Wednesday, April 20th***

Burke County, GA (WJBF) – It’s been ten days since Father Rene Robert, a beloved priest from Florida, went missing from the Jacksonville Area. Now, the Burke County Jail houses the man believed to be responsible for killing him, 28-year-old Steven James Murray.

The investigation is early and its ongoing here in Georgia,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) agent Pat Morgan.

The GBI and Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey announced, at a press conference, that Murray is charged with Malice Murder. They say Father Robert was shot to death. “Preliminary findings indicate the manner of death is homicide and the cause of death is multiple gunshot wounds,” Sheriff Coursey said, at the press conference.

Investigators believe Father Robert died during the evening hours of Sunday, April 10th. However, they were not able to positively identify the body during Wednesday’s autopsy. “Because of the condition of the body, dental records will be needed to confirm the identity. We are working to get the needed record from Florida expedited. so the lab can positively identify the victim,” Sheriff Coursey said.

Investigators believe the killing did, in fact, happen in Burke County. The investigation is still active and ongoing,” said Sheriff Coursey.

Officials also added that the man responsible is the one who led them to the body off Highway 56 Spur on Monday. “He was relaxed. He spoke with us, he answered our questions,” said Morgan, speaking about Murray.

Now, a community miles away is left with its own questions, as people try to cope with this tragic loss.

The GBI says the body could be positively identified sometime Thursday.

We will continue to follow this case and provide the latest information as it becomes available.


***UPDATED at 3:45 P.M. on Wednesday, April 20th***

Burke County, GA (WJBF) – WJBF News Channel 6 has learned that bond has been denied for 28-year-old  Steven James Murray by a Magistrate Judge during a hearing Wednesday in Burke County.

Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey said, during a press conference earlier Wednesday afternoon, that Murray is being charged with Malice Murder in the death of Father Rene Robert, of Florida.

You can watch the entire press conference below:


***UPDATED at 2:30 P.M. on Wednesday, April 20th***

Burke County, GA (WJBF) – Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey held a press conference shortly before 2:30 p.m.

Coursey said that Steven James Murray is being charged with Malice Murder in the death of Father Rene Robert of Florida.

Coursey also stated that the body found in Burke County cannot yet be confirmed to be that of Father Rene Robert. Due to the condition of the body, dental records will be examined to confirm the identity of the body.

Coursey said the autopsy shows the death occurred by multiple gunshot wounds.


***UPDATED at 1:36 P.M. on Wednesday, April 20th***

Burke County, GA (WJBF) – A press conference scheduled at 1:30 p.m. to discuss the death of a Florida priest in Burke County as well as charges the suspect, 28-year-old Steven James Murray, faces has been delayed.

According to Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) officials, the press conference is delayed until autopsy results on Father Rene Robert come in.

We will keep the feed of the live stream up here so it will be available once it starts.


***POSTED at 12:57 P.M. on Wednesday, April 20th***

Burke County, GA (WJBF) – WJBF News Channel 6 has learned that 28-year-old Steven James Murray, who is accused in the disappearance and death of a 71-year-old Florida priest, is now facing Murder charges in the death.

Murray was facing several charges in St. Johns County, in Florida, as well as charges in Aiken County, where he was found after a manhunt in the early hours of Thursday, April 14th.

Father Rene Robert, who was reportedly counseling Murray in Florida has last been seen on Sunday, April 10th. Murray was driving Father Robert’s Toyota when the manhunt started in Aiken County.

Murray was captured, then was extradited back to Florida. While in Florida, he reportedly told investigators that Father Robert’s body was in Burke County, where it was later found.

Murray was brought back to Burke County to show investigators where the priest’s body was located and he spent much of Tuesday being questioned by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

The murder charge was filed in Burke County, where Sheriff Greg Coursey is expected to hold a new conference around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

We have a crew in Burke County and we will provide details of what Sheriff Coursey has to say during the press conference.

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