Gerard Powers Vern (Jail photo)
BELTON (August 9, 2012)--A Florida man was in the Bell County Jail Thursday after he was returned to Central Texas from Tennessee, where he was arrested in March in connection with the August 2011 murder of a Killeen woman.
Gerard Powers Vern, 25, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was booked into the Bell County Jail on Wednesday evening, according to jail records.
Vern was ordered held on a $250,000 bond on a murder charge and without bond on a U.S. Army charge of being absent without leave.
An arrest warrant was issued after Vern's indictment in November 2011 for the Aug. 24, 2011 murder of Tina Marie Butler.
He was arrested following a traffic stop near Chattanooga, Tenn., after a Tennessee State Trooper learned he was named in a warrant issued in Bell County charging him with murder.
Vern also was named in FBI warrants charging multiple felonies and was considered a U.S. Army deserter.
Killeen police officers found Butler, 20, at about 12:15 a.m., lying on the ground near a sidewalk outside a residence in the 1300 block of Monroe Loop suffering a gunshot wound.
She was taken to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center where she was pronounced dead about an hour later.
Vern was named in a sealed indictment handed up on Nov. 9, 2011 and had never been identified as a suspect in Butler's death beforehand.
Eric Vasys, of the San Antonio office of the FBI said Vern also was wanted by authorities at Fort Hood on a charge of desertion.
Fort Hood officials confirmed that Vern was listed as a deserter by the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
Tennessee Highway Patrolman Gray Gibson arrested Vern in March after the trooper stopped a 2004 Suzuki Forenza on Interstate 75 southbound near mile marker 25.
Vern told the trooper he was driving from Kentucky to Florida with his wife and three children.
While checking Vern's driver's license the trooper learned of the warrants.
THP investigators were given consent to search Vern's vehicle ad from it recovered hard drives, a computer, a telephone, a knife, and drug paraphernalia.