Johnny Edwards Malisham is accused of cracking open the victim’s skull with a hatchet
A Florida man is facing homicide charges after a tip led police to a body buried on his property.
Johnny Edwards Malisham, 60, was arrested Sunday shortly after authorities were alerted to the location of the unidentified human remains at his home in Milton, PEOPLE reports.
“Investigators discovered sufficient evidence and probable cause to obtain a warrant for the arrest of Malisham on homicide charges,” the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office wrote, according to a press release.
The tipster told law enforcement that she has known Malisham for 15 years and he asked her to help him hide the body. She claims the victim is 60-year-old Cynthia Hoover and that Malisham killed her with a hatchet in March, cracking open her skull. The tipster initially contacted the Butler County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama and told them about the body in Malisham’s backyard, according to the arrest report obtained by WEAR.
Alabama authorities passed along the information to the SRSO, including the woman’s allegation that Malisham’s neighbor helped him bury the body and one of his friends helped get rid of Hoover’s car.
The neighbor admitted to SRSO detectives that she had knowledge of the murder and that Malisham told her Hoover tried to steal from him. The neighbor said she agreed to help Malisham out of fear.
“Johnny told (the neighbor) that she better come be his lookout while he buried her in the backyard or she would regret it,” the report stated. But on the night of the killing, she “couldn’t handle the sound of Cynthia’s body hitting the steps and ran to her house and locked the door.”
Hoover’s niece Brooke Kozell told local reporters shortly after she went on missing, “I’m trying to be as strong as I can and do everything I can do to find her.”
She added, “It’s been an overwhelming feeling, but also amazing. Half of the people that are looking for her, I don’t even know and for them to take time out of their lives, everyone has stuff going on. It means a lot for our community to come together in a time like this.”
“Every day that goes by, evidence is gone,” Hoover’s friend Teresa Thomason said, as reported by MSN. “We had a big storm last week too. I just hope more in the community will come out this week and help us.”
“All indications are leading us to believe it is most likely Cynthia Hoover,” said SRSO spokesman Sgt. Rich Aloy of the human remains found on Malisham’s property. “But positive identification has not been done by the medical examiner.”
The volunteer search group Geaux Rescue has assisted the SRSO in the search for Hoover.
“With cases like this, boots on the ground does help,” said Geaux Rescue founder George Ruiz. “It helps in several different ways. One, we’re eliminating areas, others are getting fires out and letting the community know what’s going on.”
Malisham previously served 12 years in prison in Alabama for manslaughter. He is being held without bond in Santa Rosa County Jail, facing one count of murder and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, according to the report.
“Part of our analysis is in their prior record,” said Assistant State Attorney John Molchan. “Certainly anybody with a prior of that magnitude, we will certainly take and vigorously prosecute that individual. We would do that with anybody under the circumstances.”
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