Cobb County

Man accused of stabbing Sandy Springs officer charged in murder of Cobb County couple

ACWORTH, Ga. — The man accused of stabbing a Sandy Springs police officer has also been arrested in the murders of a firefighter and his wife who were shot to death in Cobb County.

Matthew Lanz, 22, was arrested Friday after police say he broke into a home in Sandy Springs and stabbed a police officer who responded. Another officer shot Lanz, who was treated at the hospital before being taken into custody.

He has since also been charged in the murders of Cherokee County firefighter Justin Hicks and his wife Amber, who were shot and killed in their home Nov. 18. The Cobb County Police Department initially said he’d been taken into custody, but later said they had just obtained warrants for Lanz’s arrest.

Lanz has been charged with two felony counts of murder, two counts of aggravated assault, home invasion and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Channel 2 Action News has confirmed that Lanz lived next door to the Hicks family in Acworth.


Records pulled by Channel 2 Action News confirmed that Lanz lived in a home on Delphinium Boulevard.

That home is directly around the corner and shares a backyard fence with the home where Hicks and his wife were killed earlier this week. Their 2-year-old son was unharmed.

The Hicks family just moved into the home on Verbena Drive in September. Justin Hicks had served with the Cherokee County Fire Department for six years.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Police were conducting a search of the home on Delphinium Boulevard on Friday night.

Records show that Lanz is currently being held in the Fulton County Jail on multiple charges including criminal attempt to commit murder, aggravated assault and obstruction of law enforcement officers.

A man with the same last name and address as Lanz, 27-year-old Austin Lanz, was arrested for breaking into the same home on Verbena in April. The home was owned by another family at that time.

According to warrants, Lanz assaulted multiple deputies, injuring two of them, as he was getting booked into jail.

The break-in was the culmination of months of Austin Lanz sending harassing and threatening notes to the previous homeowners on Verbena Drive, according to the Associated Press.

At one point, Lanz had duct-taped a massive cardboard sign on the home’s front door that said, cryptically, on one side: “I’m done wondering for real” and “Wut is the point of that” on the other. Police had given him a warning to stop the harassment before he was eventually arrested.

He was released on bond in May.

In August, Austin Lanz ambushed and stabbed a Pentagon police officer to death and was then shot and killed by police. Investigators said the attack on the officer was unprovoked.

The connection between the two men is also unclear. A neighbor who asked to remain anonymous said the two were brothers.

It’s unclear what relationship, if any, Matthew Lanz had with the Hicks family and police have not determined a motive for their murders.

At the time that Austin Lanz was killed, the previous owners of the home on Verbena Drive told the Associated Press that the system failed to help the troubled young man who was harassing them.

“I wish there was a better way to address those mental health issues that people have,” said Phillip Brent, who described repeated harassment directed at himself and his then-fiancee. “It feels like it was just a clear failure of our system to help someone out who needed that help.”

Comments on this article