COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The man accused of killing three people at a Cobb County country club sits behind jail bars as family and friends of the victims are still reeling from the deaths.
11Alive is learning more about the July 3 shooting that left Henry Valdez, Paul Pierson, and Gene Siller dead. It now appears that Valdez knew the suspect, according to a friend who wanted to remain anonymous.
Here some of the newest details 11Alive has learned while digging into the triple homicide.
A connection to the suspect
A friend told 11Alive Valdez, 46, who is from California, owned a marijuana delivery service business called Hope For Humanity. The friend said Valdez came to Georgia on business.
Valdez's roommate, Gary Pesner, said he last saw him on Thursday, July 1.
“Then he flew out Friday and then he was gone Saturday," Pesner said.
Valdez's body was found in the back of a Ram 3500 pickup truck along with Pierson at the Pinetree Country Club. Warrants claim they were bound and gagged before they were shot. The golf pro on the scene, Gene Siller, was allegedly shot at point-blank range.
Police did not link any of them in the reports they have released so far. However, they did say Siller was not involved and was allegedly only shot when he went to investigate what was going on.
The suspect, Bryan Anthony Rhoden, is now facing murder, kidnapping, and aggravated assault charges.
The victims of the triple homicide
11Alive learned early on during the investigation that Siller was the golf pro found dead near the 10th hole at the country club's golf course. An online fundraising campaign for his family also quickly gained attention, as people donated funds to his grieving family.
Pierson, 76, was identified by police as the owner of the Ram 3500. According to a family friend, Pierson lived out of town and was in Atlanta on a business trip.
It was days later when authorities released the name of the third victim, Valdez. 11Alive learned on Monday that he was a man who enjoyed volunteering and loved music.
“We did a lot of volunteer work together. We fed the veterans. Every Fourth of July I lead that, he stepped up to be my assistant," said Pesner, who runs an organization called Kaizen.
“He never said no, I can't remember ever saying no. It's just like it's almost like a weakness. And he just couldn't say no, he just always said yes. You know, whenever anyone needed help," he said. "He was just a really good citizen."
Presner said Valdez's mom came to visit after the fatal shooting.
“And she just said, even as a little kid, he just made friends with everyone. Everyone loved him. He just had this really unique energy around him. Where he would always like, build people up. Like it always made people feel better about themselves."
They are now trying to raise funds to get Valdez's body back to California for burial.
Valdez's friends want to know more about how their loved one ended up in the back of a pickup truck dead.
The suspect's arrest
While a friend claims Valdez knew the suspect, Rhoden, many details about what led up to the deadly shooting remain unclear.
Rhoden, who was pursuing a music career, goes by the stage name B. Rod.
"One thing about B. Rod is he's always just a person that wants to support everybody, wants to be there for everybody, wants to like take care of his family loved ones like that," said his music manager D'Andre Veal, who also goes by @oneandre.
He said he believes Rhoden is innocent. The 23-year-old was arrested hours after the shooting on unrelated charges and released. Chamblee Police said they took Rhoden into custody on unrelated traffic charges on July 3. However, at the time, the suspect was still unknown to law enforcement as the alleged shooter in the triple homicide. But during the arrest, Chamblee Police said they confiscated a large sum of money.
Jail records show Rhoden was released on bond from the DeKalb County jail on July 6. Friday, Chamblee Police also confirmed Rhoden was released on the 6th at 8:35 p.m. On July 8, warrants were issued for his arrest in connection with the country club shooting. Chamblee Police said they used the money that was confiscated to set up a sting. Rhoden allegedly contacted police to retrieve the money.
Condolences to the victims
Veal, who has known Rhoden for more than five years, said he doesn't believe Rhoden would walk into a police station if he committed the crime.
“They're even trying to paint this picture just you know, rap star going on a rampage and all this other stuff, but I mean, this guy owns a vegan food truck," Veal said.
“And it's hard because it's hard, to defend him without being disrespectful to the family. So it's like we're at a crossroad where it's like, I don't want to say too much and come off disrespectful to anybody. Because at the end of the day, this is a very tragic event," he added.
He also said Rhoden is empathetic.
"He actually sent his condolences as well. And he said that he has no like, malice, or anger toward how everybody is portraying him because he said that he felt like if it was anybody in his family or anyone, he loved it that happened to, he wants people to do it in the same way. So he, he's really empathetic," He added.
Veal said he had conversations with Rhoden since the arrest, but declined to go into detail about what they talked about. He said he wants to leave it to the justice system.
Veal said Rhoden graduated from Campbell High School with honors.
Records also show in 2020, he was arrested in Indiana for driving 100 miles per hour.
He was arrested in 2016 in Fulton County, allegedly for a drug deal gone wrong on Georgia State University's campus. At the time, he was charged with attempted murder, but 11Alive learned that case was sealed in 2017.