A Lawrence County man has been arrested and charged with nine felonies in connection with his father’s murder.
According to a probable cause affidavit, on the evening of December 20th, Lawrence County Central Dispatch received a call requesting a welfare check on 73-year-old Mitchell man Rodney Hays. The caller told police Rodney’s son Shawn, 53, had made some troubling Facebook posts over the past week, including at least one in which he claimed someone had abducted his father and replaced him with an identical robot. The caller then went on to explain that, in a private phone conversation, Shawn said he had shot and mutilated the impersonating automoton.
Deputies went to the home the father and son shared, arriving just as a Chevy pickup pulled away from the house. Due to the nature of their visit, deputies intercepted the truck, preventing it from leaving the scene.
Behind the wheel sat Shawn Hays. A shotgun rested beside him in the passenger seat.
Confronted by police, Shawn became combative and refused to exit the vehicle. When questioned about his father’s whereabouts, he said Rodney was “over there” and made a vague motion toward their residence. “It’s a robot that looks like a human… laying over there,” he said at one point during the exchange. “I had to shoot at it to destroy it.”
While one of the deputies talked to the obviously-disturbed man, distracting him, the other deputy was able to grab the gun out of the truck. A brief struggled ensued before the two officers removed Hays from the pickup then placed him in handcuffs.
A search of the property quickly led to the discovery of Rodney Hays’s lifeless body laid out in his own front yard. He had been shot in the head and chest, his corpse mutilated.
Shawn allegedly admitted to the murder and dismemberment in a later interview. However, he continued to insist he had not harmed his father but, rather, a robotic replica. Police charged him with nine felonies, including murder, aggravated battery, reckless homicide, domestic battery, battery, abuse of a corpse, criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, pointing a loaded firearm and obstruction of justice, as well as a misdemeanor of resisting law enforcement.
He is currently in custody at the Lawrence County Jail in Bedford.