SPRINGFIELD — The sole survivor of a fatal shooting attack that left an Effingham County father and son dead said Wednesday she does not know who shot her.
Linda Heidt testified Wednesday in the double-murder trial of her son, Craig Heidt, that she could not identify the person who shot her and killed her husband Philip and son Carey in Philip and Linda’s home in August 2008.
Jurors heard a recording of Linda Heidt’s 911 call in the minutes after her husband and son were fatally shot. Her severe injuries to her neck and face made it difficult for 911 operators to understand what she was trying to tell them before they pieced enough information together.
Heidt told operators she had been shot once but did not know who shot her and did not know if her assailant was still in the house. She also told them her husband had been shot and that her son Carey was in the house but she did not know at the time if he had been shot.
Linda Heidt was in the bathroom when her husband was shot, she said.
Hearing a loud noise — and fearing that lightning had struck her husband’s sleep apnea breathing machine — she went into the bedroom.
“I said, ‘Philip,’ and saw a flash,” she said. “Philip was shot. Then I saw a flash, and I was shot.”
In direct testimony, Linda Heidt said she picked up the bedside telephone but found it was dead. Effingham County Sheriff’s Office crime scene technicians testified that the phone line had been cut outside the house.
Remembering her purse was in the kitchen and her cell phone was in it, Linda Heidt said she made her way there — but with her injuries, she said she doesn’t remember how she got there.
“I said, ‘God, if we’re going to do this, I need your strength because I have none of my own,’” she told the court.
She blacked out, she said, and when she came to, she saw her teeth lying on the floor. She lost consciousness again and when she came to again, she saw her husband had been shot.
“I don’t know how I got to the kitchen,” she said. “The next thing I remember, I was sitting next to the wall.”
Linda Heidt got her cell phone and a paper with a list of her medications and allergies as she prepared to call for help.
“I had trouble getting them to understand me,” she said. “I had trouble articulating my words. My mouth had been shot.”
James Dingledein, now a member of the U.S. Park Police in Washington, D.C., was the shift sergeant when the 911 call came in. He and several other deputies raced to the Heidt house, he said.
Linda Heidt said she remembered three deputies coming in and recalled hearing one deputy say, “There’s two dead back here.”
EMS rushed her to Memorial Health University Medical Center and Heidt said she didn’t remember anything else until waking up in her hospital room four weeks later.
As she left the witness stand and walked out of the courtroom, she and Craig smiled at one another.
Jurors also saw the first video taken by crime scene technicians at the Heidt home on Springfield-Egypt Road, less than three hours after the incident was reported. They saw the images of Carey Heidt and Philip Heidt shot dead as they slept in their bedrooms.
Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Michael Muldrew spelled out the state’s case to jurors Wednesday morning. He said Craig Heidt was having an affair with Robin Heidt, Carey’s wife, a relationship the family did not approve.
“What took place is as old as the Bible,” Muldrew said. “It’s as old as mankind.”
The Heidts also had a $3.5 million insurance policy, and Philip Heidt reportedly told Craig Heidt that if he did not leave Robin alone, Craig would be cut out of the will, Muldrew said.
Defense attorney Dow Bonds said his defendant admitted to the affair and though Philip and Linda Heidt did not approve of the relationship, they had accepted it. He also said Carey Heidt was making preparations to leave Robin and move on with his life, having hired an attorney.
“Tensions were not as high as the state said,” Bonds told jurors. “Craig Heidt did not plan nor participate nor carry out what he is charged with. He had nothing to do with it — nothing.”
Georgia Bureau of Investigation specialists determined the shooting was not a home invasion, and Muldrew pointed to a key that was found in the deadbolt lock on the inside of a door as a crucial piece of evidence. He said the Heidts locked the deadbolt at night but kept a key on a mantle. They also had a spare key hidden outside the house.
As authorities went through the house, there was a key in the deadbolt lock, but the key on the mantle was untouched.
Carey Heidt had come to his parents’ house earlier that night to stay for the evening. He’d spoken with his kids on the phone and had planned to pick them up in the morning and take them to school.
“From the beginning, this is one tragedy heaped upon one tragedy heaped upon one tragedy,” Muldrew said.
“It’s a case that has destroyed an entire family,” Bonds said in his opening statement. “No matter what happens over the next 10 days, the lives of Philip and Carey have been lost forever.”