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Son charged with murder called 'a sick killer'

The son, Keith Sylvester, who acted as a family spokesperson, is charged with murdering his mother and step-father. Now relatives are speaking out about the strange twists of this case.

UPDATE:  On September 2, 2020, Fulton County District Attorney's office says charges have been dismissed against Keith Sylvester for the July, 2018 deaths of his parents in Atlanta, GA.

They were two people who worked, found love later in life, retired, and moved from Buffalo, New York, to Atlanta, Georgia. Harry "Bootsie" Hubbard, 67, and Deborah "Debbie" Jenkins Hubbard, 65, died in a July house fire in Atlanta.

And now Debbie's son, Keith Sylvester, 47,  is charged with murder.

Credit: WGRZ-TV

The Hubbards were veterans and retired from the Buffalo VA Medical Center.

They lived on Harvel Drive in Atlanta until a fire on July 3. Their bodies were found inside, but police say they were also strangled.

Tanika Hubbard described her father as "one of those barbershop guys" who hangs to talk to his friends.

Credit: Hubbard Family

She described her step-mother, Debbie, as a woman who loved her children and grandchildren.

After learning about the fire, Tanika flew from Buffalo to Atlanta, at the time not knowing the couple was dead until she found out in a phone call while on a layover in Baltimore.

While in Atlanta she never saw Debbie's son and her step-brother, Keith Sylvester, but they did speak by phone.

"He said its like seven different stories going on (pertaining to what happened). I said, 'Well, what is your story? He told me that he went to the house, he went to go check on them to make sure that they were OK, and when he went around to the side of the house, he said he looked through the window, and I seen a candle. He said I had to go to the bathroom, so I left, so I'm like, 'Why wouldn't you go to the bathroom while you were there, you had the key to get in?' He said, 'Because I wanted to go home and take a shower.' "

It was also during that conversation when she recalled Sylvester asking about paperwork.

Tanika had a suspicion Keith was involved in the crime "because he was the only one there."

She also recalled how her father would say about Keith "something ain't right about him."

A few years ago on a hot summer day in Buffalo, Tanika recalled talking to Sylvester at her father's birthday party. He was wearing blue plastic gloves. 

"He looked at me, and he said, 'If you could kill somebody how would you do it?' "

Atlanta police say the Harry and Debbie were strangled.

"The fact that they were strangled is the weirdest thing to me. I was told that it's like a crime of jealousy, a crime of passion, a crime of hatred," Tanika said.

The couple's funeral was held in Buffalo at True Bethel Baptist Church. Sylvester was a no-show.

Sylvester has a criminal record. He spent time in prison for fraud.

Just three days after the crime, Sylvester spoke by phone with WGRZ-TV reporter Claudine Ewing. He was upset and eager to find out who killed his mother and step-father.

"At first we thought it was just a house fire, but apparently something else happened in that house that morning," he said.

He spoke glowingly of his mother. "My mother was a good mother, she was a grandmother, she's a veteran," he said.

He later took to social media. On Facebook he wrote: 

"I want justice for my mother & her husband! We have to be fully cooperative with fire investigators & homicide detectives. If you know something please come forward and don't lie or spread rumors. I don't believe I am a suspect but since I was related and stayed at the residence they the investigators need as much info as possible."

In August on his mother's Facebook page he wrote about a reward. "Once we get a conviction you will be given the money."

He even posted a copy of a search warrant.

In October when Claudine Ewing reached out to him inquiring about the case, he responded via text message.

"The police here have not concluded their investigation yet but there's been a lot going on I'm going to send you some information I want you to save it in case anything happens to me. I've been really scared and nervous please don't share this information on the media until the police here conclude their investigation."

Credit: WGRZ-TV

He made several references to his mother's insurance policy and his step-father's children.

"I don't know what's going to happen....I know that they are all pointing the finger at me since I was the only one from Buffalo still down here with them. I think they know someone who killed my mother for insurance money and her property and by pointing the finger at me they would have full access to my mothers estate."

December 2018, Atlanta police arrested the son, Keith Sylvester charging him with murder, arson, aggravated assault, strangulation and insurance fraud.

Police had a hard time positively identifying Debbie Hubbard because her teeth had been yanked from her mouth.

Tanika Hubbard was not shocked about the arrest of Sylvester. 

She learned in court that Debbie Hubbard's insurance policy had recently been changed and it was solely for Keith.

He is "a killer, a sick killer who took two people that didn't deserve to go. How could you do this to your parent," said Tanika shaking her head and when asked if she could forgive, "I don't forgive him, I can't."

Credit: WGRZ-TV

Sylvester remains in the Fulton County Jail without bail. His case is scheduled for grand jury March 4.

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