Danny K. Coston, 36, Centerville, appeared to start to cry as he met a throng of cameras carried by area news reporters as he was led from the City-County Jail to the White County Courthouse in Carmi Tuesday morning.
Coston was due in court for first advisement of nine formal charges filed against him in connection with the deaths of 22-year-old Jacob Wheeler and 17-year-old Jessica Evans.
The charges were five Class M murder charges, one Class X felony charge of aggravated criminal sexual assault, two Class X felony charges of aggravated battery with a firearm and one Class 3 felony charge of concealing a homicidal death.
Coston is accused of killing Wheeler and Evans in remote northern White County east of Centerville with a firearm then disposing of their bodies during the early morning hours of Sunday, Aug. 26. Additionally, he is now accused of sexually assaulting Evans prior to her murder.
Evans and Wheeler were reported missing Sunday when they failed to return from a camping and fishing trip along the Little Wabash River east of Centerville. Evans' body was discovered Monday, Aug. 27, behind an abandoned farm about a mile south of the pair's campsite.
During the search for Wheeler, parts from a damaged pickup were discovered that led authorities to Coston's truck. He was picked up for questioning Friday, Aug. 31, and allegedly provided authorities with information that led to the discovery later that night of Wheeler's badly decomposed body in remote southeastern Wayne County down a seldom-traveled farm lane.
Autopsies showed both victims died from gunshot wounds to the head. Evans was shot three times, Wheeler once. An exhaustive search for the firearm used in the homicides was conducted over this past weekend using specialized equipment in many instances, but failed to find the weapon. It is said to be a small-caliber handgun.
Evans was a senior at Norris City-Omaha-Enfield High School and lived with her mother in Norris City. Wheeler recently returned home from a tour of duty in Iraq as a member of an ordinance disposal unit of the U.S. Army and lived at least part-time with his father in Centerville, not far from where Coston lived. He is also survived by a wife who lives in another state.
Evans was laid to rest Saturday. Funeral arrangements are set for Wheeler Wednesday, September 5. See obituary of Wheeler for details.
Coston was working for a local electrical contractor and had accompanied a co-worker to the New Haven American Legion the Saturday night prior to the murders. Witnesses there reported Coston was intoxicated, obnoxious and too fresh with some of the women patrons on the dance floor.
Coston reportedly left the Legion late Saturday night and gave his co-worker a ride home before departing for a fishing trip of his own on the Little Wabash River east of Centerville where he allegedly encountered Evans and Wheeler.
Page 2 of 2 - Coston remains in the City-County Jail in Carmi under $3 million bond.