Missing Florida priest found dead in Georgia, police say

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (AP) — A 71-year-old Florida priest missing since last week has been found dead in Georgia, police said Monday night.

The body of the Rev. Rene Wayne Robert was found in Waynesboro after the man arrested while driving the priest's car led police there, St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar said at a news conference.

Steven James Murray, 28, was arrested Wednesday night in Aiken, S.C., with numerous weapons in the St. Augustine-based priest's car. Shoar said he expects Murray will be charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping.

The sheriff said motive was unclear at this point but the Franciscan priest had tried to help Murray, who the sheriff characterized as a "career criminal," after he was recently released from jail.

Investigators think Robert was killed April 10, the last night he was seen. A cause of death has yet to be determined, but Shoar said "it was obvious he was the victim of homicidal violence."

An emotional Shoar called Robert a dear friend and described the investigation as the most intense of his career.

"I just really wish we had better news tonight," he said.

Murray has been charged with aggravated fleeing and attempting to elude related to his arrest.

Aiken County Sheriff's spokesman Eric Abdullah wrote in a statement that deputies and U.S. marshals responded to Murray's last known location Wednesday afternoon. As they approached the 2012 blue Toyota Corolla with Florida license plates, Murray drove away and crashed into a tree, then fled on foot, Abdullah wrote. Bloodhounds and a helicopter tracked Murray down and he was arrested, according to the statement.

Records don't indicate whether he's hired an attorney to contact for comment on the case.

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