Causes of death in Malabar triple slaying could take weeks


MALABAR, Fla. – Although Brevard County sheriff’s officials have positively identified the remains recovered from the site of an arson fire in Malabar earlier this month, it could be weeks before authorities can say how the three died.

Investigators said the bodies were identified as those of 39-year-old Chrissy Hughes, a business owner; her 9-year-old son Sebastian Meachum, a second grader at Pineapple Cove Academy in Palm Bay; and Hughes’ 39-year-old sister Linda Woods, of Bella Vista, Arkansas.

Dental records were used to help with the identification process, authorities said, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

The three were discovered in the burned out rubble of a two-story home at 855 Atz Road. Neighbors called authorities after spotting the fire June 11.

Investigators, however, said Tony Hughes, Chrissy Hughes’ husband, still has not been located. Investigators said he may have taken an 18-foot boat from the property and piloted it out several miles east of the Sebastian Inlet and taken his own life.

No warrant has been issued for Tony Hughes' arrest, sheriff's spokesman Tod Goodyear said.

Blood was found in the boat, which was spotted circling the waters 7 miles out to sea, investigators reported. Goodyear said the blood has been positively identified as human blood, but investigators have not tied it to anyone.

The bodies were expected to be released to the families, who are organizing a local memorial service before having funeral services in Arkansas.

Determining how the three died could take six weeks, Goodyear said. Toxicology tests on the bodies are needed to complete the autopsy, he said. As of Tuesday, neither the Sheriff's Office nor the state medical examiner's office had released a preliminary cause of death.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 321-501-7594.