Gabriel Boykins, 45, on Tuesday morning had his case bound over to the Grand Jury by General Sessions Court Judge Lila Statom after she found there was probable cause he killed Tamara Church and her daughter. District Attorney Neal Pinkston brought in Church’s other daughter and a detective as his two witnesses.
“She came and left, and said she was coming back, and she never came back,” her daughter said through tears.
“We would be on the phone all day, every day.”
She told the judge that after not receiving a call back from her mother, she contacted the police. She said Boykins seemed surprised by the news, and asked her, “What the (expletive) happened to my baby mama? I heard she was dead.”
Later on, law enforcement showed her a video of a man leaving her mother’s burned-out car. The daughter said she recognized the man walking away as Boykins, although his attorney asked her how she knew it was him if the picture was not clear.
“If you know him, then you know (the person walking away in the video) is him,” the daughter said.
Detective Daryl Slaughter said that when their bodies were found near Greenwood Road, they were unable to find any medical evidence that the girl next to Ms. Church’s body was her deceased daughter. He said investigators could not find any dental records to match with the body’s.
However, during DA Pinkston’s closing arguments, he did say that there was no other young woman matching her description in terms of missing persons, and he pointed to the fact that the body was found right next to Ms. Church’s. Detective Slaughter said autopsies showed blunt force to the head was probably the cause of death.
The detectiver said Boykins' answers during their interview were inconsistent. He said Boykins claimed he went to Knoxville after that to visit a girl, then a girlfriend, then a friend. The detective also said Boykins could not recite her phone number or address.
“His story was always changing, so his story was never straight,” the detective said. Boykins’ attorney did say that his client had tried to commit suicide and was banging his head against the wall before being interviewed. The attorney questioned his client’s mental health.
After hearing the arguments, Judge Statom said there was enough circumstantial evidence to say there was probable cause that Boykins killed Ms. Church and her daughter.
Ms. Church and her daughter were last seen on May 17. On July 9, police located Boykins with another young daughter of Ms. Church at a residence on 6th Avenue Court. That daughter said the last time she saw her mother was around 2 p.m. on May 17 at their residence at 6th Avenue Court. She said she and her sister left in the Honda and that was the last time she ever saw them.
Police said Boykins gave conflicting information. He said he had left town to go to Louisville, Ky., and then to Oklahoma. Police said he had no family or other contacts in those places.
The last day Boykins worked at his longtime job at Pilgrim's Pride was May 15.
Police said they searched 1917 Foust St., Apt., B, which was the last reported location of Ms. Church and her child. Detectives said it was apparent that the apartment had been cleaned and no one had been living there for some time.
The landlord said in the past that Boykins had kept the residence in a disheveled condition.
The other daughter said Ms. Church always slept on a mattress in the front room of the Foust Street unit.
Police said on July 15 video footage was discovered at the area where the burned vehicle was found. It shows a man leaving the scene within minutes of the vehicle being burned. He was walking south in the direction of the Boykins residence on Foust Street.
Police said the man in the video has hair and build consistent with that of Boykins.
Police said in the course of their investigation they found that on Feb. 27, 2016, that Ms. Church had brought the daughter who was later killed to the hospital to be examined for rape. The child was brought back in a few days later saying she had been sexually assaulted. The child said the incidents involved Boykins.