The details of an arrest warrant might present a reason why a man allegedly strangled his mother and stepfather to death and set their northwest Atlanta home on fire in July 2018: insurance money.
The affidavit, obtained by Channel 2 Action News, said Keith Sylvester, who faces two counts of felony murder in connection with the deaths of the couple, was the sole beneficiary of his mother’s homeowners policy.
Sylvester, 47, was arrested nearly six months after the July 3 deaths of Deborah, 65, and Harry Hubband, 67, AJC.com previously reported. They were found strangled at their burning home on Harvel Drive. The couple had moved from Buffalo, N.Y., less than a year before their deaths.
Detectives spoke to Sylvester, Deborah’s oldest son, at the scene, but the warrant said multiple family members had concerns he may have been responsible, including his brother.
“It just baffled me. I don’t understand,” Willie Jenkins Jr., Sylvester's younger brother, told Channel 2. “There’s a lot of questions I have for him because he was assisting with the investigation.”
The warrant said Sylvester was the only one with access to keys to the home where firefighters found the couple. All the doors were locked, and there were no signs of forced entry.
He also bought moth balls, candles and rubbing alcohol, which could have been used to start the fire, the affidavit alleged.
Sylvester spoke to Channel 2 the morning of the fire, and he said he went by the home to check on his ice cream van that was parked in the driveway. He also said he had a dash camera in his vehicle, and he handed the SD card with the footage to the fire captain before he was arrested.
The warrant said a neighbor called Sylvester to say his mother’s house was on fire, but he allegedly never called his mother’s phone to see if she was OK. The video from his vehicle also allegedly shows him drive calmly back to the house.
“And like I told him, ‘You drove by at the time it was going on. Why didn’t you knock?’” Jenkins told the news station. “Something didn’t add up at the time with me.”
Sylvester also allegedly showed deception during a voice stress test, the affidavit said. The document concludes by saying “Keith Sylvester is the only person with motive, opportunity and ability to have committed this crime.”
He remains in the Fulton County Jail without bond. His preliminary court hearing is scheduled for Monday.
In other news:
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.