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Murders of Michael Roark and girlfriend Tiffany York, and Mackenzie Cowell profiled on ID

Mugshots of the Georgia militia
Four members of the Georgia militia group Michael Burnett, Anthony Peden, Christopher Salmon, Isaac Aguigui, were charged with murder. Pic credit: Long County Sheriff’s Office

This week on Hometown Homicide: Local Mysteries, the team investigates a plot by a Georgia militia to overthrow the government, which culminated in the murders of former soldier Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend Tiffany York.

Also this week, the show profiles the murder of 17-year-old high school student Mackenzie Cowell, who was savagely butchered and dumped on the banks of the Columbia River in Washington state.

The murders of Michael Roark and Tiffany York

Former soldier Michael Roark and his girlfriend Tiffany York were shot dead by members of a militia group that was based around the sprawling US army base, Fort Stewart in Georgia.

The pair were shot dead in a secluded wooded area of Long County not far from the military base.

The militia group, which was comprised of current and former military members had been busy stockpiling firearms and gun components, which were part of a plot to overthrow the government and assassinate President Obama.

The group believed they had been betrayed by Roark, who had left the army just two days before he was murdered.

Army private first-class Michael Burnett pleaded guilty to manslaughter, illegal gang activity, and other charges. In exchange for leniency, he testified against all his fellow traitors, which blew the plot wide open.

Burnett, along with the militia’s founder and leader, sergeant Anthony Peden, private Christopher Salmon, and private Isaac Aguigui, were charged in connection with the murders of Roark and York.

The murder of Mackenzie Cowell

In 2010, the body of Mackenzie Cowell, a 17-year-old high school student from Wenatchee, WA, was found bludgeoned and strangled to death on the banks of the Columbia River.

Mackenzie Cowell poses on a sofa
Christopher Wilson pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Mackenzie Cowell. Pic credit: ID/ YouTube

There was a knife still stuck in her shoulder, which the police took to be the murder weapon.

This was a smalltown community that was not used to murder, and it left the townsfolk of Wenatchee shaken and scared to the fact that there could be a murderer living in their midst.

The police finally got a lead when they were sent a note that suggested they take a look at one of Mackenzie’s classmates, Christopher Scott Wilson.

Wilson sported a tattoo of fictitious serial killer Hannibal Lector on his arm, and he was known to have a fascination with murder and dead bodies. The police were instantly suspicious of him.

And their suspicions were only heightened after discovering a bloodstain in his apartment. There was a further breakthrough when his DNA was found on some duct tape found at the scene of the crime.

In a plea agreement, Wilson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He has since retracted his guilty plea and now claims he is completely innocent.

More from Hometown Homicide: Local Mysteries

Follow the links to read about more murder mysteries profiled on Hometown Homicide.

Teenager Bruce Brenizer murdered five members of his family in Cushing, Wisconsin, in 1991. His half-brother Jesse Anderson assisted him in disposing of the bodies.

A South Carolina business couple, John and Liz Calvert, disappeared, without a trace from their hometown in 2008 shortly after going to confront their accountant, Dennis Gerwing. A week later, Gerwing committed suicide.

Hometown Homicide: Local Mysteries airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

Jerry was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, but is now based in the UK. He specializes in true crime and entertainment news stories. When... read more
Jerry Brown

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