There were Jackson County connections in a brutal crime in Central Florida late last Thursday night, July 30, which left two family members dead and a third seriously injured.

The terrible crime made national news, but also caught the attention of shocked and horrified local residents. Former Jackson resident, John Savey, 61, was attacked and killed in the episode as well as his son, James Savey, 30. John’s wife and James’s mother, Lisa Savey, 61, survived a beating, but sustained serious injuries and was hospitalized.

Both John Savey and Lisa Conley Savey grew up in Jackson, graduated from Jackson High School (JHS) in 1977 and were later married. John’s successful career in advertising had taken him to Florida where the family had been living in Windermere, Florida, which is a small suburb of the city of Orlando.

According to Windermere Police and news reports, the deadly episode occurred at approximately 11 p.m. at the Saveys’ residential property in the gated community of Lake Crescent Reserve. Police stated that a male suspect later identified as Ezekiel Emanuel Hopkins, 34, was allegedly attempting to steal a pickup truck owned by the Saveys when John and Lisa confronted him in the act.

Hopkins responded by attacking and bludgeoning John Savey with a baseball bat, leaving him dead outside the residence. Hopkins then pursued a retreating Lisa inside the residence and attacked her as well as her son, James Savey. James was killed and Lisa was seriously injured. Police believe Hopkins used the baseball bat as a weapon against all three victims. Lisa was taken to a nearby hospital and admitted.

John and Lisa’s 10-year-old grandson was also in the house, but Mrs. Savey was able to tell him to call 9-1-1. The boy was able to reach a 9-1-1 operator to report that a burglary was in progress. The operator advised the boy to hide in a bathroom and stay connected. The boy was in the bathroom while the attack was occurring. 

Officers with several agencies responded to the home as the burglary was in progress. Hostage negotiators on the scene began communicating with Hopkins through a closed door. Hopkins was found inside a bathroom in the house and was not responsive. Police say he appeared to have drunk bleach and he was taken to a nearby hospital.

Initially, Hopkins has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.

Court records in Orange County indicate that Hopkins has a prior history of arrests on felony charges dating back to at least 2009. He was previously convicted of violating a protection order, resisting an officer and tampering with evidence. In 2012, Hopkins was acquitted of battery and aggravated stalking.

Investigators are also checking out another possible link to the horrific crime at the Savey home. Officials said prior to the grandson calling 9-1-1, members of the Ocoee Police Department observed a suspicious vehicle on Ocoee Apopka Road behind a construction area. The driver of the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed down McGuire Road and was not pursued pursuant to policy, according to police.

That vehicle was then driven over a berm off Park Avenue before crashing into a tree next to the home where the double homicide occurred, according to police.

The Jackson Connection

John Savey was the son of the late Joe (Hi) and Dorothy (Dot) Savey of Jackson. The Saveys were a well-known and well-liked family in Jackson and were very loyal and active members of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church of Jackson. John had an older sister, Mary Thompson, who survives and now resides in Maryland with her husband, Tom, also a JHS graduate. Lisa Savey is the daughter of the late Frank Conley and Janice Conley. Janice Conley survives, but now reportedly lives in Florida.

Jackson resident and Jackson County Commissioner Paul Haller graduated from Jackson High School with John Savey and Lisa Conley in the Class of 1977. Haller’s friendship with Savey goes all the way back to elementary school and it has continued into their adult years in spite of the many years which have passed and the different directions their lives have taken.

At the request of The Telegram, Haller shared his memories and thoughts of their long friendship and the terrible tragedy which has ended John Savey’s life:

“There are many of us from the JHS Class of ‘77 that have fond memories of John Savey. Great fun kid… memories like when we got paddled by Parkview School Principal Bill McDonald for throwing snowballs… Riding bicycles in the Savey basement on State Street… Boy Scout campouts with Troop 48… The Safety School Patrol when John was Captain and I was the Lieutenant… Our great adventure out of state on the 6th-grade trip to Washington D.C. when we were roommates. Then on to high school on the sideline as one of our football team managers with my father, Coach Haller. 

“Many stories of a great, mild-mannered guy that had no enemies. John went on to college and became a very successful businessman of a billboard advertising company.  He married his high school sweetheart and our fellow classmate Lisa Conley, and together they have raised a beautiful family. 

“We will never know why this senseless tragedy happened.  Only the Lord knows and only He can heal the wounds and scars of Lisa and family of the loss of John and their son James. The rest of us, friends and fellow ‘77 classmates can lift them up in prayer and cherish his memory.”

The Business/Florida Connection

After graduating from Jackson High School, John Savey attended and graduated from nearby Ohio University with a degree in advertising. He then embarked on a successful career in advertising which took him to Florida at a young age. For the past 20 years, he had been serving as a managing partner at Longview Outdoor Advertising Co. in Windermere, which specializes in billboard advertising in Central Florida.  Previously, he had served as the CEO of Signal Outdoor Advertising in New York City.

Savey’s standing in the business was hailed in a news release in Billboard Insider, a trade publication which provides a free daily source of news and analysis about billboards, transit advertising and out-of-home advertising.

“John Savey was a great guy,” recalled industry veteran Jim McLaughlin, in the Billboard Insider article. “He was widely known in the industry on both the traditional billboard side and the street furniture side.”

In other news reports issued in the wake of the double murder, the Saveys were also praised as neighbors and active and giving church members at the Family Church.

A next-door neighbor described John and Lisa Savey and their family as “the most precious human beings.” Also, Family Church Lead Pastor Chuck Carter related, “This was a couple that was here every time the doors were open. They actually taught some classes for us. Those classes were popular and people enjoyed those. They always had a smile on their face.”