The four Guy children gathered last week for a Thanksgiving feast at their parents’ tidy, two-story home, situated on the corner lot of Goldenview Lane inside a manicured neighborhood in Knoxville, Tenn.
It would be the family’s last holiday together in that house, for in two weeks, Joel Guy Sr., and his wife, Lisa, planned to move to his late mother’s mountain home 90 miles away in Surgoinsville. Family members there told the Kingsport Times-News that they were looking forward to a Christmas reunion.
The Guys said their post-Thanksgiving goodbyes first to their three daughters, who all live in Tennessee, and planned to send-off their son, Joel Michael Guy Jr., 28, on Friday. He’d been living in Baton Rouge, for nearly a decade, and his parents financially supported him.
After Thanksgiving, authorities say, they’d planned to tell him they were cutting him off.
It’s still unclear what happened next, whether the Guys ever had a chance to deliver their message. What authorities do know is that the 28-year-old stayed in Tennessee three days longer than he’d planned, and that by Sunday afternoon, his parents’ home had been turned into what police called a “horrific” and “very gruesome” crime scene.
During a welfare check Monday, after Lisa Guy’s employer told police that she didn’t show up for work, authorities entered the home and discovered a barking dog locked in an upstairs room and the remains of Joel Sr. and Lisa Guy scattered throughout the house, their dismembered body parts resting in a homemade acidic solution concocted to erase evidence of the crimes that took place there.
There were signs of a struggle, authorities said, and the scene was so toxic and spread out that it took investigators in hazmat suits all of Monday and Tuesday to process the evidence.
On Tuesday night, Joel Guy Jr. was arrested outside his Baton Rouge apartment and charged with first-degree murder, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office announced at a news conference Wednesday. Authorities think he worked alone, killing his parents sometime between Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.
He stayed in the house with their remains until Sunday, when he drove his car to Baton Rouge.
At the news conference, Maj. Michael MacLean with the sheriff’s department called the crimes “very, very rare.”
“It’s in the one percentile of homicides in the United States that involve mutilation or dismemberment. It’s not something we run across,” MacLean said. “Usually there’s a motivation behind it, in this case we just don’t know what that is.”
Although family members told authorities about the elder Guys’ plans to scale back their son’s financial support, MacLean would not confirm whether that was their son’s motive for allegedly killing and mutilating them. Authorities consider it a possible motive, MacLean said at the news conference, but Joel Guy Jr. has been unwilling to speak with police since they took him into custody Tuesday night.
It’s unclear, but unlikely, that the son was a beneficiary of his parents’ life insurance policy, MacLean said.
The sisters told police that nothing seemed amiss with their brother during Thanksgiving, and that there were no family disputes that day. MacLean said that authorities are not aware of any history of mental illness and that the suspect has no criminal record.
Although the acidic solution the victims were found in — a corrosive cocktail of liquid fire, hydrogen peroxide, sewer cleaner and bleach — caused them to “suffer excessive decomposition,” MacLean said investigators were still able to identify them. It did, however, make it difficult to determine the cause of death.
The elder Guys suffered multiple “vicious” stabs wounds, law enforcement determined, and were possibly tortured.
Police waited two days to tell the public about the gruesome killings and the arrest of Joel Guy Jr. because they said they didn’t want to tip the son off that he might be a suspect.
MacLean described the 28-year-old as a college student in Baton Rouge. The sheriff’s office told the Advocate that the suspect attended Louisiana State University at one point before withdrawing last year, but an LSU spokesman would not confirm that when the newspaper asked.
“I have no information to provide about that individual,” said Ernie Ballard, a spokesman.
Neighbors told the Advocate that Joel Guy Jr. was reclusive and quiet. He lived alone in his Baton Rouge apartment, but had previously lived with a roommate, the newspaper reported.
Rene Charles, the sister of Joel Guy Sr., told the Kingsport Times-News that she couldn’t believe her nephew could be capable of carrying out such brutal killings.
“We’re very shocked that he would do something like this,” Charles told the newspaper. “It’s one thing to stab someone, but to do everything that he did, to dismember his parents’ bodies?”
She said the family was looking forward to the end of December, when they’d all gather for the holidays.
“We were going to have Christmases together again,” she told the Times-News. “We were just fixing to have all of us back together again.”
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