CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- Matthew Marshall is facing charges but has not been convicted for the grisly murder of his father, who detectives found dismembered just days after he was reported missing back in February. You've heard the graphic details of the murder from police reports, but Fox 4's Stephanie Tinoco headed up to Minnesota to find out who the suspected killer really was.
"It really is like my buddy is dead, you know? I'm Sorry."
Words don't come easy for Chris Lappako, who says his childhood best friend from the small suburbs of Minnesota is gone, replaced by a stranger. "He was a really good person."
Matthew Marshall is now behind bars for the gruesome murder of his father, Rick Marshall, who was found dismembered a short distance away from the condo he shared with his dad in Cape Coral. The crime was done with surgical precision that reports say took a lot of knowledge and skill.
"I saw people talking like it might have been a hate crime, but he wasn't like that." Friends say Matt grew up in a wealthy household, went to a private school, and seemed to have a normal life. "I got the impression that everybody did love each other in that family, and I would hang out with Rick and Matt and we'd bust each other's chops all the time."
The headmaster of Matt's school, his college football coaches, friends, and even family wouldn't share pictures of the Matt they grew to know, but it's easy to find the mugshot of the man who is tied to this cruel crime circulating online.
For Chris, it's painful to talk about his friend he says is being portrayed as a monster. Taking a deep breath, he says he thinks he lost his best friend to alcoholism and schizophrenia. "I definitely think he's got some mental issues. And when you mix that with alcohol and whatever else he wants to do to escape reality, then it's no good."
Chris says Matt got sick a few years ago with pancreatitis. Doctors ordered him to stop drinking, so he asked Chris for help. "I just said whatever you need from me, I'm here for you. And I could hear in his voice that he was really going to have a hard time with that."
Matt still struggled with alcohol, and things would soon get worse. Friends say they started noticing a change in his personality around 2007. "Matt started acting weird. He was using coded language that a lot of us didn't understand," Chris said.
The same year, police reports show Matt showed up at a different friend's door "enraged and confrontational." The friend told officers that Matt choked him to the point he couldn't breathe and "gouged at his eyes" with his fingers.
"I know another time he went to someone's house and just stood there and stared at them and then left. So he's done things to intimidate people in our group," says Chris. "I basically informed his family about the things that he was saying, and I didn't hear from Matt after that."
Records show Matt has been committed, and even Baker acted in the past.
Months before his father's murder, Chris started hearing from Matt again. "He was sending me messages on Facebook about secret societies."
The troubling messages escalated. "He wanted me to kill terrorists with him. He never mentioned anything about his dad, I just know he wanted to kill terrorists and I thought he was just joking, drunk, and on social media saying things he would regret the next morning and delete."
Matt's social media accounts list disturbing interests: threats to politicians, ISIS, and his friends. "He was making really graphic threats. I didn't necessarily take them seriously, I just knew that okay, Matt is having problems again."
But then he heard of Matt's arrest. "It kinda came together, it was like an 'a-ha' moment. My mom just said that someone had been arrested from Saint Thomas and their dad had been murdered. And I said 'it was Matt.' You know, the light bulb just went off."
Matt faces charges for 2nd degree murder, abuse of a dead human body, and tampering with physical evidence. "It feels like Matt as I know him doesn't exist anymore, like Matt died, almost. And I mourn his loss. I wish the Matt I knew was still around."
While in Minnesota, Four In Your Corner tried reaching out to Matthew Marshall's brother, but could not get in contact with him or his mother who lives in Wisconsin.
The family has asked Matthew's friends not to talk to the media until after this all plays out in court.
Matthew is expected to be in court for an arraignment on Tuesday.
Below are links to past stories Fox 4 was reported about the Matthew Marshall case.