911 Call: Brother kills brother, buries him in backyard

11:50 AM, Jun 23, 2010   |    comments
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Spring Hill, Florida - No one quite understood why it happened.

Stanley Eckard and his little brother, Sean Paul, lived at home with their parents in a quiet Spring Hill neighborhood, full of manicured lawns and vast trees. 

The younger brother was known as reserved, but kind.  He and his brother always waved and said hello to those who passed by.  Those who knew Sean say he had an interest in music and wanted to go to college someday. 

That dream came to a grisly and morbid end over the weekend.

According to an arrest affidavit, Stanley Eckard strangled his little brother, watched the body fall to the ground, and then checked the pulse to see if Sean was dead. 

On Saturday, Stanley's mother saw her son burying something in their backyard. He told her it was the belongings of an ex-girlfriend.

It turns out, detectives say, he was lying.

"It's just a very bizarre case, a very extreme case, difficult for all of us to grasp, I mean, we certainly feel for the family because it's a lot for a set of parents to bear right now, you know two sons that are involved," says Chief Michael Maurer of the Operations Bureau at the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

When Sean went missing for a few days, family members became concerned.  They not only wondered what happened to him, but they began eyeing the suspicious pile of dirt in the backyard.

After Father's Day came and went, they took action.

According to a 911 call, Sean and Stanley's sister came over Monday and began talking to their mother.   Their talk turned to panic, and soon the sister anxiously asked her mother, "Mom, we need to dig up that hole. What's in that hole?"

The mother replied with two words, "Let's go."

Soon, the entire family made the most gruesome discovery any person could fathom - the arm and hand of Sean Eckard poking out from the muddy ground.  Sean's father stood over his son's body, hysterical as he saw the remains.

Sean's sister can be heard in the 911 call screaming, "My brother killed my brother! Send help now!"

The panicked voice you hear in that 911 call is the Eckard's oldest sister Jennifer.  We connected with her outside of her Spring Hill home Tuesday night when she said the stories she's hearing about her brothers are lies.  She says her family wants the real story out there but she didn't want to go on camera without her parents' approval. 

PHOTOS: Man finds body of his son buried in yard
AUDIO: Listen to the 911 call (WARNING: Graphic language)

Investigators from the Hernando Sheriff's Office and the Medical Examiner's Office spent Monday night and all day Tuesday working to exhume the body.  In the stifling Florida heat, even longtime detectives pointed out that, sadly, the body had begun decomposing.

So, the question remains, why would a man allegedly kill his own brother

According to documents, the two had a fight.  Sources say, it's possible the brothers were fighting over a girl.

Neighbor Steven Partanen tell us, "There was a lot of action going on. I wasn't too sure of what it was, or anything like that. There was action going on and I heard yelling before and seen broken beer bottles and things like that."

Stanley Eckard had his first court appearance on Tuesday morning where the judge told the 21-year-old that he was charged with first-degree murder after finding probable cause.

Partanen also said, "It's a loss for everybody around the neighborhood because a lot of people besides me knew him. And, you know, it's just sad to see him go."

Family members showed up at the home on Peoria Street in Spring Hill, holding each other and crying as they stood next to a small memorial on the corner of the street.

"Please," one of the asked the media. "Give us our privacy. We don't want to talk."

All day Tuesday, neighbors came out of their homes with puzzled looks on their faces, straining their necks to see the police activity at the end of the block.  They walked to neighboring porches and open garages to discuss the situation at hand with others who knew the family members.

Not wanting to be identified, one woman told us," That poor family, I feel sorry for them. Now, they've lost both sons."

In a makeshift memorial outside of the home, loved ones write how Sean wanted to be a therapist so he could help people in rehab.

Now, that dream is gone and the Eckard family will never be the same.

The boys' father, Samuel Eckard, works at the Grace Presbyterian Church on Spring Hill, and the pastor told 10 Connects the parents are delightful people.  The church is accepting donations to help the family get through this tragedy.

If you want to help, you can send donations to Pastor Chet Okopski at the Grace Presbyterian Church, 8375 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill, FL  34608.  Phone number (352) 683-2082.

Melanie Brooks and Erica Pitzi, 10 Connects

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