A grand jury in Georgia on Friday returned an indictment against a 22-year-old man accused of murdering a married couple in their new home and leaving the victims’ 2-year-old son alone in the house for several hours.
Matthew Scott Lanz, who is also accused of stabbing a police officer in the neck, was charged with the November 2021 murders of Justin Thompson Hicks and his wife Amber Hicks, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
Lanz is the brother of 27-year-old Austin William Lanz, who made national headlines in August 2021 when killed Officer George Gonzalez of the Pentagon Police at a bus station near the federal building. Authorities said Austin Lanz then shot himself.
Austin Lanz is the suspect behind the killing of an officer outside the Pentagon Tuesday per several law enforcement agencies the AP reports. Lanz, a Cobb County resident, was facing charges related to 2 recent incidents in Cobb. This was his Cobb mugshot https://t.co/rAtaZiyVdz pic.twitter.com/rFyKEGJ8SS
— Joe Henke (@JoeHenke) August 4, 2021
The 13-count indictment filed in Cobb County Superior Court charged Lanz with two counts of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, one count of home invasion, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, one count of second-degree cruelty to children, and one count of tampering with evidence.
Unlike most states, Georgia does not delineate murder by degrees. Instead, the law differentiates between malice murder, killing someone with malice aforethought, and felony murder, causing someone’s death in the commission of a felony.
The four felony murder charges stem from Lanz allegedly fatally shooting Justin, a six-year veteran of the Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services Department, and Amber during the ongoing felonies of home invasion and aggravated assault.
The cruelty to children charge stems from Lanz allegedly leaving then-2-year-old Jacob Hicks alone with his murdered parents. The affidavit says Lanz caused Jacob “cruel and excessive physical and mental pain by leaving Jacob Hicks’ parents deceased inside the home,” and resulting in the infant “being alone and unsupervised for approximately 12 hours during which Jacob Hicks was unable to feed himself, change his diaper, or get the attention of his parents.”
Prosecutors also alleged that Lanz, after fatally shooting the couple, collected the shell casings from the home, claiming that he did so “as to avoid apprehension and otherwise obstruct the prosecution of himself,” resulting in the evidence tampering charge.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, Lanz lived just around the corner from the home, which the Hicks family had moved into only a few months earlier. The Hicks home reportedly shared a backyard fence with Lanz’s home, which is located on Delphinium Boulevard.
The previous owner of the Hicks home, Phillip Brent, said Lanz and his older brother conducted a “long harassment campaign” against him and his fiancée when they lived in the home.
Two days after Lanz allegedly murdered Justin and Amber Hicks, officers with the Sandy Springs Police Department on Nov. 19 responded to a call about a possible break-in at a home located in Fulton County. A patrol car was reportedly already in the area because someone called 911 minutes earlier and reported a suspicious person in the area.
“Once our officers arrived, they confronted the perpetrator still inside the house,” Sgt. Sal Ortega told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The alleged perpetrator was later identified as Lanz. “At some point, a struggle took place where the suspect attacked one of our officers, stabbing him multiple times throughout his body. At least one other responding officer shot at the suspect in an attempt to stop the stabbing.”
The officer reportedly sustained multiple stab wounds to the neck and back. Lanz was also reportedly shot twice by officers. Both the wounded officer and Lanz were rushed to Grady Hospital for treatment.
Matthew Lanz was released from the hospital and booked in Fulton County Jail.
The officer Lanz allegedly stabbed was released from the hospital after about a day. Lanz has remained incarcerated since his arrest.
The double-homicide took place just months after the Pentagon stabbing. That Aug. 3 attack reportedly happened “immediately” and “without provocation” as soon as Austin Lanz stepped off a bus. The suspect then reportedly used Officer Gonzalez’s service weapon to shoot himself.
Read the indictment below.
[Images via Cobb County Fire & Emergency Services, Sandy Springs Police Department]
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