NOTE: The following information was collected from court documents.
NEW SUMMERFIELD, Texas (KETK) – In the predawn hours of Tuesday, 18-year-old John Clinton walked down the long driveway of a trailer home with Jesse Pawlowski, a 20-year-old Jacksonville man who he recently met on a dating app.
Pawlowski told Clinton that one of his friends, 37-year-old Billy Phillips, wanted to buy a handgun that Clinton was selling.
The two men meet Phillips and Dylan Welch, 21, who pull up to the driveway of the home in a rural area near New Summerfield.
What Clinton doesn’t know is that this a plot by Pawlowski, Phillips and Welch to steal the gun.
This is among the information found in arrest warrant affidavits that led to the arrests of Pawlowski, Phillips and Welch who are now charged with capital murder for the shooting deaths of Clinton and three other people — Jeff Gerla, 47, Ami Hickey, 39, and Amanda Bain, 39 — who were also living in the trailer home.
The legal documents provide information investigators obtained while interviewing some of the suspects and a woman who knows them and claims to have knowledge of what happened.
The affidavits provide new information in the quadruple murder.
7:55 a.m. – Jacqueline Gerla, who lives on Highway 110 near New Summerfield calls 911. She tells authorities the body of Clinton, who lives with her son, Jeff Gerla, in a trailer home behind her brick house, is in the driveway.
8:20 a.m. – The affidavit for the arrest warrant states that Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office personnel arrive and see that Clinton has been shot in the head.
While searching the property, they find the bodies of Gerla, Bain and Hickey in the trailer home. They all have been shot to death. The bodies are sent to Southwestern Institute of Forensics Science in Dallas for autopsies.
Jacqueline Gerla tells deputies that a red Dodge Challenger, driven by her son, was stolen. Cherokee County Sheriff Brent Dickson releases information about the deaths and the stolen car, asking for the public’s help in locating it.
Texas Rangers and sheriff’s office investigators secure a search warrant from District Judge Chris Day to search the trailer home as a crime scene.
“As a result, numerous items of potential evidence, including firearms/ballistics evidence and a large quantity of digital photographs were collected,” according to the affidavit.
A Texas Ranger notes: “In the process, I gained relevant, first-hand knowledge of the details of the crime as well as information relevant to the events surrounding the murders of Clinton, Gerla, Bain and Hickey.
Investigators interview a woman who they are told has information about the murders. The woman identifies Welch, Pawlowski and Phillips, all of Jacksonville, as suspects.
She tells investigators that Phillips and Welch were at her home at 10 p.m. Monday and received a text message from Pawlowski asking that they pick him up from the home of a “sexual acquaintance’ he met on Grindr, a mobile app often used by gay men.
She says Phillips, Welch and Pawlowski returned to her home at 4 a.m. Tuesday and now have a handgun and two shotguns. According to the warrant, she says the men tell her that Pawlowski shot three people and Phillips shot one.
She says they tell her that Pawlowski stole a Dodge Challenger and took it to a chop shop and that Pawlowski and Phillips stole a cell phone from the residence.
5:30 p.m. – Welch is taken into custody. He denies any involvement in the murders.
7:48 p.m. – Pawlowski is interviewed by investigators. Pawlowski tells investigators that he met Clinton and Jeff Gerla on Grindr and has “polyamorous” sexual relationship with the two men. He says he often meets them at the trailer home. He says he knew they have several firearms, including a handgun that Clinton wants to sell for $500.
Pawlowski shares that he agrees to arrange for Phillips and Clinton to meet under the pretense of buying the gun from Clinton.
Pawlowski tells investigators that he, Phillips and Welch “never intended to purchase the handgun” and instead “conspired to steal the handgun from Clinton instead of actually buying the handgun.”
On Monday night, Pawlowski says he went to the trailer home to meet with Clinton and Gerla. Bain and Hickey are also there. Pawlowski says he sent a text to Phillips and Welch to come over. Pawlowski and Clinton walk to the end of the driveway and meet Phillips and Welch.
Clinton is carrying the gun he believes Phillips wants to buy.
Phillips took the gun from Clinton and “shot him in the back of the head”, Pawlowski tells investigators. He says he, Phillips and Welch then went into the trailer and shot the other three.
Pawlowski says he took two shotguns from the trailer home. While leaving, Pawlowski says he returned to Clinton’s body in the driveway and removed from Clinton’s pocket the keys to Jeff Gerla’s Dodge Challenger and stole it.
Pawlowski says he drove the car to a metal building in Jacksonville and also left the gun there.
11:02 p.m. – Phillips is interviewed by investigators and he tells them that he met with Pawlowski and Welch at the trailer home but denies “any involvement in the murder or being present when the murder was committed.”
Phillips tells investigators that he told Pawlowksi to “get rid” of the stolen guns and the stolen Dodge Challenger and that he attempted to help Pawlowski sell the car.
10:30 a.m.: Cherokee County Sheriff Brent Dickson holds a news conference. He offers condolences to the family members of the victims, praises the work of the multiple law agencies who are investigating the crimes and announces that Pawlowski, Phillips and Welch are charged with capital murder in the shooting deaths.
He says that East Texas is safer because the men are behind bars.
2:30 p.m.: Pawlowski, Welch and Phillips appear before District Judge Chris Day in the Cherokee County Courthouse. The judge set bond at $1 million for each.
All three ask to be represented by a court-appointed attorney.