Suspect in Cobb homicides, officer’s stabbing faces 43 charges in 2 counties

Matthew Lanz was denied bond at a court appearance Saturday in Fulton County.
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Matthew Lanz was denied bond at a court appearance Saturday in Fulton County.

Credit: Sandy Springs Police Department

A 22-year-old man accused of killing a Cobb County couple and then stabbing a Sandy Springs police officer has been charged with 43 counts related to the crimes, court and jail records show.

Investigators have not released details on a possible motive, but Matthew Scott Lanz is accused of a crime spree that killed two people and injured two officers about 20 miles apart. The incidents started as home invasions, police said, and quickly turned violent.

Lanz is accused of breaking into a home in his Acworth-area neighborhood either late Wednesday or early Thursday. There, he killed Justin and Amber Hicks, a Cherokee County firefighter and his wife, who had just bought their Verbena Drive home in August, according to Cobb police and property records. The couple was found around 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Their 2-year-old son was in the home but not harmed.

Then early Friday, Lanz allegedly broke into additional homes in Sandy Springs, according to police. When Lanz was caught in the living room of a home, he stabbed an officer, police said last week. Another officer fired at Lanz, the GBI said.

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Amber (left) and Justin Hicks were found dead from gunshot wounds inside their home Thursday.

Credit: Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services

Amber (left) and Justin Hicks were found dead from gunshot wounds inside their home Thursday.
Caption
Amber (left) and Justin Hicks were found dead from gunshot wounds inside their home Thursday.

Credit: Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services

Credit: Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services

“Once our officers arrived, they confronted the perpetrator still inside the house,” Sgt. Sal Ortega, a spokesman with Sandy Springs police, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “At some point, a struggle took place where the suspect attacked one of our officers, stabbing him multiple times throughout his body. At least one other responding officer shot at the suspect in an attempt to stop the stabbing.”

Both the officer and Lanz were treated and released from the hospital Friday.

Sandy Springs police charged Lanz with 35 counts, including 34 felonies, court records show. His charges are: 10 counts of aggravated assault, 10 counts of criminal attempt to commit murder, 10 counts of felony obstruction, two counts of first-degree burglary and one count each of first-degree home invasion, possession of a knife during the commission of a felony, and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

Lanz was booked into the Fulton County jail Friday and denied bond Saturday at his first court appearance, records show. He remained in the Fulton jail Monday.

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A man was shot in the living room of a home on Cameron Glen Drive after attacking a Sandy Springs police officer with a knife, according to authorities.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

A man was shot in the living room of a home on Cameron Glen Drive after attacking a Sandy Springs police officer with a knife, according to authorities.
Caption
A man was shot in the living room of a home on Cameron Glen Drive after attacking a Sandy Springs police officer with a knife, according to authorities.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

While already in jail, Lanz was linked to the Cobb homicides, police said Saturday. He was also charged with two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, home invasion and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, according to police.

“Our Cobb County Crimes Against Persons Unit has been working nonstop since this incident happened, and that’s why they were able to get a suspect as quickly as they did,” Cobb police spokesman Sgt. Wayne Delk told the AJC. “There’s still some work to do to cross the T’s and a process, but for the most part, this case has been solved.”

According to his arrest warrant, Lanz broke a rear window in the Hicks’ home to get inside before shooting the couple multiple times. A backyard fence separates the homes where Lanz and the Hicks lived.

But from there, the story took another twist. Although Lanz has no known criminal record, his brother made national headlines in August. And he had been accused of previously breaking into the same home where the Hicks lived.

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Brothers Matthew Lanz (left) and Austin Lanz.

Credit: Sandy Springs Police Department, Cobb County Sheriff's Department

Brothers Matthew Lanz (left) and Austin Lanz.
Caption
Brothers Matthew Lanz (left) and Austin Lanz.

Credit: Sandy Springs Police Department, Cobb County Sheriff's Department

Credit: Sandy Springs Police Department, Cobb County Sheriff's Department

Lanz is the brother of Austin William Lanz, the man who fatally stabbed a police officer at a bus stop near the Pentagon in August, according to police. After stabbing George Gonzalez, 27-year-old Austin Lanz used the officer’s service weapon to kill himself outside the headquarters of the U.S. military, the FBI Washington field office said.

At the time, Austin Lanz was free on bond for criminal cases in Cobb. Lanz had twice been caught on camera ― in July 2020 and February ― leaving inappropriate photographs and notes in a neighbor’s mailbox, according to police. In April, he burglarized the same home in his Acworth-area neighborhood and was arrested, his warrant states.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Phillip Brent said it was his home that Lanz targeted. Brent said he and a former fiancee were repeatedly harassed by Austin Lanz.

“I wish there was a better way to address those mental health issues that people have,” said Brent, who shared a backyard fence with Lanz. “It feels like it was just a clear failure of our system to help someone out who needed that help.”

Brent sold the home to the Hicks in August, property records show.


HONORING JUSTIN AND AMBER HICKS

Funeral: The funeral for Justin and Amber Hicks will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at His Hands Church at 550 Molly Lane in Woodstock. The burial will follow at Rolling Hills Memory Gardens at 4355 Ga. 92 in Acworth. The family will also be receiving friends from 4-8 p.m. Monday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at His Hands Church.

How to help: In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a trust fund for the son, Jacob Raymond Hicks. This fund is set up through LGE Credit Union, according to the online obituaries.

A GoFundMe page has been created to assist the family with funeral costs.

Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services set up a donation drive to allow community members to drop off items. The department spoke with the family and compiled a list of needs, which include diapers, shoes and seasonal clothing. Drop-off locations include: Station 12 at 9081 Fincher Road in Waleska; Station 20 at 6724 Bells Ferry Road in Woodstock; and Station 23 at 7625 Vaughn Road in Canton.

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