Details of Disappearance
Hughes and his girlfriend, Heidi Rhodes, were last seen together in Bay County, Florida on the evening of May 7, 2012. Hughes lived in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida and Rhodes in Panama City Beach, Florida. Neither of them have ever been heard from again, and they weren't reported missing for weeks. It's uncharacteristic of the pair to leave without warning.
On May 11, an acquaintance of Hughes named Barry T. Davis Jr. drove Hughes's Corvette to Orlando, Florida and sold it for $15,000. He was charged with grand theft in connection with the incident.
At his trial in October 2012, his attorney argued Hughes asked Davis to sell the car for him because he was in debt to drug dealers and needed money to "disappear" and move to Barbados. Davis was acquitted. He has a prior criminal record for battery, burglary, grand theft and marijuana possession. A photo of him is posted with this case summary.
On May 20, thirteen days after Rhodes and Hughes were last seen, Davis was seen driving Hughes's pearl-white 2003 Cadillac Escalade with the Florida license plate number 912NWJ. The vehicle itself wasn't found until October 5; it had been covered with a tarp and parked in the back of a property in DeFuniak Springs, Florida.
In late July 2012, Davis charged with grand theft and burglary. Neighbors had seen him loading Hughes's belongings into a U-Haul truck the month he and Rhodes disappeared. Davis admitted he had done this, but said he'd only been helping Hughes move to another location.
Authorities found furniture and other property belonging to Hughes in Davis's possession. He had also pawned some items and sold others online.
He gave some of Hughes's belongings to the people who helped him load Davis's things into the U-Haul, as payment for their work. One of the items he gave away was a lamp; later, authorities recovered it and discovered Hughes's blood on it.
Davis also made numerous withdrawals from Hughes's bank accounts, writing checks totaling $15,900. Hughes had gotten a substantial financial settlement after a workplace injury, and had assets of over $400,000.
In February 2013, Davis was charged with the couple's murders. Tiffani Steward, his former girlfriend, testified against him; she stated she saw Davis beat and strangle Rhodes and Hughes and drown them in the bathtub, and she also saw him burning a tote bag which he claimed contained the victims' dismembered remains. He was convicted and sentenced to death.
Davis is now on Florida's death row, awaiting execution. Foul play is suspected in Rhodes and Hughes's disappearances due to the circumstances involved.