Russell Tillis is accused in the murder of Joni Gunter, whose dismembered body was found buried in his backyard in 2016.
Tillis lived in a home on Bowden Road on the Southside, a home neighbors call a "house of horrors." Over the years, police were called to the home over 80 times.
Now, Tillis’ brother, Claude Tillis, is speaking out for the first time about growing up with the accused killer. Claude Tillis says his brother got hooked on crack in the 1980s, and that's when his downward spiral began.
Russell Tillis has been in and out of the justice system for years, and he's now accused of the unthinkable. Claude Tillis called his brother evil, saying he is afraid of his only brother.
“I'm scared to death of him, and you know, I hate to say it because it's my brother, but he scares me.”
Action News Jax asked if Claude Tillis thinks his brother is a killer.
“When I found out what happened, I didn’t know what to think. If you asked me this before they found that body, I would have told you, you know, I really don't believe you.”
We went back to the home where police found the body, something Claude Tillis says he avoids. The home has since been demolished, and now is only an overgrown lot.
Action News Jax obtained video of officers chasing Tillis at his home in May 2015.
Claude Tillis wishes things were different and hopes Gunter’s family will eventually find some sense of peace.
“From my heart, I would do anything in the world to bring her back, so they could have their child back,” he said.
Russell Tillis' trial has been pushed back to May. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.
Cox Media Group