Joe Kovac Jr.
The Macon Telegraph
Jun. 9—PERRY — In what was described as a bizarre and brutal knife attack that left a Perry husband and wife dead in their apartment two years ago, prosecutors this week revealed that the husband’s body was found covered in a blanket with a Darth Vader statuette and coffee mug perched on his back beside a lone cowboy boot.
Details of the killings emerged here this week at the murder trial of the slain woman’s son, who had been living with her and his stepfather at the time of their deaths.
Anthony Douglas Shoffner Jr., 27, is accused of murder in the slayings of his mother, Rebecca Lynn Griffin, 46, and his stepfather, Kenneth Griffin, 42, on the night of March 10, 2020. Their bodies were discovered the next day in the living room of their home at the Houston Lake Apartments on the east side of Perry.
Shoffner, a former correctional officer at a state prison in Macon County, had previously been implicated in a federally prosecuted methamphetamine ring involving inmates. He pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and was sentenced to 28 months in federal prison. At some point after his release in early 2019, he moved in with the Griffins.
Testimony in Shoffner’s murder trial began Monday in Houston County Superior Court and had been expected to conclude Wednesday or Thursday.
But on Wednesday morning, Judge G.E. “Bo” Adams declared a mistrial after a prosecutorial miscue.
While a video recording of Shoffner’s interrogation by Perry police detectives in March 2020 was being shown to jurors, Shoffner could be heard in the video telling the detectives how he had respected his stepfather for taking care of his mother while Shoffner was away in prison.
References to Shoffner’s prior conviction were supposed to have been redacted from the video so as not to prejudice the jury, but because of an apparent mix-up the original, unredacted recording was played in court.
Shoffner was expected to be tried again in the coming weeks.
When the trial was called off Wednesday, there had been no clear explanation of what prompted the bloody assault on the Griffins. Nor was any sense made of the peculiar arrangement of “Star Wars” memorabilia — a Darth Vader mug and figurine — and the single leather cowboy boot atop Kenneth Griffin’s corpse.
Although Kenneth Griffin’s obituary noted that he was an avid “Star Wars” fan who “had seen every one of the saga movies,” prosecutor Eric Z. Edwards, in his opening statement to jurors on Monday, came perhaps as close as anyone will to interpreting the macabre display.
“This is a case about brutality and indifference,” Edwards said. “This goes beyond stabbing two people. … After the two of them were stabbed to death there in the apartment, you’ll see the evidence that the killer covers their bodies in blankets and then ritualistically has placed household items on top of their bodies like totems.”
Shoffner’s sister, Briana, testified Monday and barely so much as glanced at her brother. She told of learning of her parents’ deaths while she was away at college in her senior year at Georgia Southern University.
She said that the night they were killed she tried calling and text-messaging them but that they didn’t answer or reply. She said she did, however, reach her brother. She said he told her they were “fine,” that they were sleeping.
During Shoffner’s interrogation — at least the hour or so that jurors heard Wednesday — he was asked by detectives what had happened in the Griffins’ apartment.
“I don’t recall,” he replied. “I don’t remember.”
Speaking of his mother, who worked at the Social Security Administration office in Macon, Shoffner told the detectives, “I loved her dearly.”
He described her as “a sweetheart … just as sweet as she could be.”
He mentioned feeling “ridiculed” by his stepfather for staying in his room for hours on end. But aside from that possible tension, Shoffner spoke of no animosity that could have possibly fueled a deadly rampage.
Prosecutors have said that Shoffner had told the police about a foot-long kitchen knife, a possible murder weapon, that was found in the Jeep SUV he was driving when he was arrested hours after the Griffins were found dead. The Jeep belonged to his stepfather, who worked at a Warner Robins golf course.
Prosecutors also said Shoffner directed the police to the slain couple’s cellphones, which were hidden in the water tank of a toilet in the Griffins’ apartment.
Shoffner was jailed in the aftermath of the killings after he, according to prosecutors, sold some of Kenneth Griffin’s video game systems at a GameStop store and allegedly attacked someone with a baseball bat at another Perry apartment complex.
This story was originally published June 9, 2022 5:00 AM.
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