Snellville murder suspect son of Virgin Islands senator

Stephen O'Reilly

Stephen O'Reilly

SNELLVILLE -- Asked if the person who stabbed him was still in the house, 28-year-old Brett Francis had a simple answer.

"No, he took off in my car," he told police, dying on the garage floor of the Hurndon Road home.

Francis had been stabbed several times and died during surgery at Gwinnett Medical Center. About 53 hours after a roommate discovered him inside the Snellville house where he rented a room, his alleged murderer -- Stephen O'Reilly, another roommate and the son of a senator in his native Virgin Islands -- turned himself in to authorities in Pensacola, Fla.

Before he died, Francis reportedly told authorities that O'Reilly, 24, had attacked him. Motive remains under investigation, a police spokesman said, as O'Reilly awaits extradition from the Escambia County Jail.

The path that led O'Reilly from the Caribbean to Snellville is a winding one.

The son of three-term Virgin Islands Sen. Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O'Reilly, O'Reilly was a standout high school basketball player, setting the islands' scoring record with a 76 points in one game. He joined the hoops team at North Florida University in Jacksonville in 2009, becoming the first person on the mother's side of his family to attend college.

But O'Reilly played only half a season there -- appearing in just five games for a total of 17 minutes-- before withdrawing from classes in January 2010, North Florida basketball spokesman Brian Morgan said Wednesday.

Morgan said he believed O'Reilly then transferred to Morehouse College in Atlanta. What happened from there is unclear.

Attempts to reach Sen. Rivera-O'Reilly on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Gwinnett County police believe O'Reilly stabbed Francis before fleeing in his Toyota Camry. A third roommate, a 36-year-old man who owns the home where both men were renting, came home at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday to find Francis bleeding out in the garage.