AUSTIN, Texas-- An arrest has been made in connection to the murder of a Northwest Austin man who was found dead of a gunshot wound last month.
On Nov. 19, a neighbor summoned police to the Northwest Austin home of 75-year-old Phillip Liberty. She told officers it was routine for Liberty to come by her house each morning before taking his two-year-old grandson to daycare. He hadn't shown up.
When officers went into Liberty's home, they found him dead of a gunshot wound and evidence that his body had been moved and the scene cleaned and altered.
On Wednesday, officers arrested Irwin Pentland in connection to the crime.
"According to all accounts they were friends. Frequently hung out together and talked and so there's nothing to indicate any anger between them at all," said APD Lt. Justin Newsom.
Newsom says because of inconsistencies in Pentland's story and other evidence, he now considers him a suspect in Liberty's murder.
Pentland claims he went to Liberty's home the day before the murder to discuss a business arrangement. Pentland says Liberty said he may need him to pick up his grandson from daycare. After not hearing from Liberty, Pentland says he took it upon himself to pick up the child and despite not being on the authorization list, a staff member at St. Louis Early Childhood Development Center released the child to him.
Police say Pentland took the boy to his mother's home in South Austin and left him alone all night. He says at 8 a.m. on the 19th, hours before police discovered the body, he returned the child to daycare.
APD released photos of the condition of the inside of the home. Officers noted hazards such as stacks of boxes, toxic chemicals and household cleaners.
"And then to be left alone, for a two year old, in a strange location the propensity for something bad to happen was great," said Newsom.
Police charged Pentland for abandoning or endangering a child.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has opened up its own investigation regarding the daycare's release of the child.
A church pastor, Father James Misko, told FOX 7 in a statement that the staff member involved as well as the director of the program have been placed on administrative leave.
"As the safety of the children in our program is of the highest importance, we will immediately re-visit our protocols for the drop off and pick up of children. No child will be released to a person who is not on our official pick up list."
In Liberty's obituary, his family asks that donations in his memory be given to the daycare. The Navy veteran and St. Edward's graduate had a long career at IBM. He leaves behind three children and many grandchildren.
Pentland has a criminal history that includes resisting arrest, assault causing bodily injury. For both crimes he served two years of probation. In 2011 he was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced to 10 years of probation which would put him still on probation at the time of arrest.
FOX 7 looked into the daycare's inspection history. We found seven deficiencies within the past two years. Two were considered of high concern. Officials say during one visit, they found six employees who did not have a renewal background check submitted in the system. In another inspection, one caregiver who was present and working at the time of inspection didn't have results of an FBI background check.
To view the daycare's entire inspection history, click here