South Florida

They murdered an older couple in Alabama, cops say, but were arrested in South Florida

Jee and Mary Holt were murdered in Birmingham, Alabama last week, police say.
Jee and Mary Holt were murdered in Birmingham, Alabama last week, police say. Holt family

Two suspects in a double murder case in Alabama were arrested in South Florida this week, police said.

Kristen Gullion, 30, was arrested in Miami Beach Thursday after parking illegally at a traffic circle, according to an arrest report. That’s when a police officer looked up the car’s tag and realized the vehicle had been stolen and linked to a homicide. Ultimately the officer pulled Gullion over after she “tried to drive away.”

The 2012 Honda Civic had been reported stolen Aug. 2, the same day a couple were found dead in their Birmingham, Ala., home, according to Birmingham police. The bodies of Joe Holt, 68, and Mary Holt, 67, were found inside. A child, who was wearing blood-stained clothes and roaming the streets, led police to the crime scene.

On Thursday, Gullion told police the car she was driving belonged to her friend and that “in situations like this her father told her to keep her mouth shut,” the arrest report said.

On Friday, Zachary Phillips, 23, was taken into custody in Hollywood. He was a passenger in a Ford Mustang that had been stolen in Miami Beach and crashed into two parked vehicles as police chased it. Phillips got out of the passenger seat and ran away, police said.

“Phillips was believed to be armed. A perimeter was quickly established and the SWAT Team and K9 Unit was activated. Shortly after, the K9 Unit apprehended Phillips, who was found hiding in a yard in the 2100 block of Roosevelt Street,” Hollywood police said.

The driver of the Mustang, Vivian De La Rosa Toniana, was arrested. It’s unclear whether she’s connected to the Alabama case. It’s also still unknown if or how Phillips and Gullion knew the victims.

Gullion was arrested on a grand theft charge with no bond following a Birmingham warrant issued in June, records show. Police say Gullion lives in Coleman, just northwest of Orlando. Friday night, Phillips was in the custody of Hollywood police, who had not said whether he had been charged.

In a GoFundMe page, the victims’ family described Mary Holt to be “beyond kind” and a giver of many hugs. Joe Holt “could talk about Native American pottery, whiskey distillation, herb gardens, politics, and fish, just to name a few.” The couple were devout members of their local church.