Entries in Georgia (76)


Two Teens Arrested in Georgia Baby Shooting

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BRUNSWICK, Ga.) -- Two teenage suspects, one as young as 14, have been arrested in the shooting death of a 1-year-old Georgia boy, who was killed as his mother pushed him in a stroller, police announced Friday.

Chief Tobe Green of the Brunswick Police Department said that Demarquis Elkins, 17, and a 14-year-old unidentified suspect whose name has been withheld because of his age, were arrested early this morning in connection with the baby's death, and both have been charged with first-degree murder.

"We are still investigating the motive, but we are trying to turn every stone to make sure we get a motive," Green said.

Green declined to provide further details, other than to say it continued to be an open investigation, and that no weapon had yet been recovered.

Under Georgia law, Elkins is considered an adult, Green said, but the younger suspect is considered a minor.

"We are still following up on leads from our witnesses and are still involved in collecting evidence," Green said. Search warrants had been issued at three locations near Brunswick, which has a population of about 15,500 people.

Brunswick police, along with a SWAT team and various agencies, had launched a vast manhunt across the Glynn County area in search of the two teenage suspects after the shooting on Thursday morning.

Sherry West, the 41-year-old mother of the child, told police she'd been walking her 13-month-old son, Antonio, in a stroller Thursday morning through their Brunswick, Ga., neighborhood when two African-American boys approached her and demanded money. When she told them she didn't have any money, West said one of the boys pulled out a handgun.

"He said, 'I'm going to kill you if you don't give me money,' and I said, 'I swear I don't have any,"' West told WAWS-TV in Jacksonville, Fla.

West said she tried to shield her child with her arms, but the gunman shoved her and shot the baby in the head. West was shot in the leg.

Going on West's description, police said they began looking for two African-American boys between the ages of 10 and 15 years old since Thursday. No details about how the suspects were arrested were given.

Officer Todd Rhodes, a spokesman for the Brunswick Police Department, confirmed that the weapon used in the shooting was a handgun but declined to describe it further.

Since the shooting, police said 30 different leads had been called into the Brunswick Police Department and the Glynn County Police Department, or were submitted through email. Police said the Glynn County School Board Campus Police had been assisting law enforcement in combing school attendance records for leads.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Georgia Mom Shoots Home Invader While Hiding with Her Children

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- A mother of two has been hailed a hero by her husband after she shot an intruder in their Loganville, Ga., home last Friday afternoon.

"She protected the kids. She did what she was supposed to do as a responsible, prepared gun owner," said her husband, Donnie Herman, in an interview with ABC's Atlanta affiliate, WSB-TV.

According to Herman and the Walton County Sheriff's Office incident report, Melinda Herman was working at home when a man began to ring the doorbell. She called her husband at work, who told her to gather their 9-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, and go hide. All three of them went to an upstairs crawl space, and Melinda brought along a .38 caliber handgun to the hiding place.

Her husband, meanwhile, called the police. In the 911 recording, Herman can be heard saying, "She shot him. She's shooting him, she's shooting him. Shoot him again."

"I heard him pleading," her husband said to the 911 operator. "He was screaming."

The man allegedly broke into the house and rummaged around before making his way to the crawl space, where he found the mother and children hiding.

"The perpetrator opens that door, and of course at that time he's staring at her, her two children and a .38 revolver," said Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman to WSB-TV.

Melinda Herman shot the intruder five times, hitting him in the face and neck. Chapman said she told the man if he moved she would shoot him again, although she had run out of bullets.

"The guy is [heard] telling her to quit shooting," said Chapman.

The intruder, who police identified as 32-year-old Paul Slater, managed to get to his car, and as he tried to flee, crashed into a tree. Deputies later found him in a neighbor's yard.

Melinda Herman and her children, in the meantime, had sought refuge in a neighbor's home.

"Her life is saved and our kids' lives are saved. And that's all I can say," said Donnie Herman.

Slater is currently in the Gwinnett Medical Center, receiving treatment for his injuries, which deputies described as serious. A family member told WSB-TV that Slater was on a ventilator and had endured puncture wounds to his lungs, liver and stomach.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Georgia Official's Mysterious Death Rattles St. Simons Island YORK) -- A tight-knit, one-road Georgia island has been rocked by the mysterious death of a town official who was known as a family man and church leader.

The body of Tom Sublett, 52, was found floating in a marina less than a mile from his home on the picturesque St. Simons Island on Dec. 11.  He was found with his hands bound in front of him and with a gunshot wound to the head.  An autopsy concluded he died by drowning, authorities said.

His silver Toyota was about 150 yards away.  Sublett's wife Carol had reported him missing the night before when he didn't come home from a regular poker game.

"This is a small community that basically has one road on and off the island and only one road that goes the full length of the island," a longtime friend, Cap Fendig, told ABC News.  "It's a shocking event.  Crime, certainly violent crime, is almost totally unheard of."

Sublett was the Glynn County Commissioner and was serving the final month of his four-year term when he died.

The Glynn County Police Department released a list of evidence that was found at the death scene, including blood samples, a laptop, a gun holster, magazine rounds and empty prescription bottles.  There is no gun on the evidence list and authorities will not comment on whether a weapon has been found.

Fendig, 58, is a life-long resident of the island and said he had been friends with Sublett for many years.  Fendig served as county commissioner for eight years.

"I was quite shocked and very upset at the loss of a friend and the possibility that he was murdered," Fendig said.  "He was a nice guy, a good leader, open-minded, a strong leader in the church, had a big family and long community ties.  It's just not the norm."

Fendig said he last communicated with Sublett about a week before his death.  He emailed him to thank him for his service as county commissioner and said they should go fishing once his term was up.  He said Sublett replied that he looked forward to doing that.

Fendig's brother, also a close friend of Sublett's, saw him the day of his death.  The two men pulled up beside each other at a stop light, waved and then chatted on the phone for a few minutes.

Fendig's brother said there was "no indication" from that conversation that anything was wrong or unusual with Sublett.

The case has been classified a "death investigation," according to spokesman John Bankhead of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).  The GBI is leading the investigation.

Despite a $50,000 reward offered for information in the town, Bankhead said that "very little, if any, information" has come in.

Police have been tight-lipped about the case, leading many on the island of about 18,000 people to speculate.

"They have not [said much] and that leaves more to the imagination," Fendig said.

Fendig said unsubstantiated rumors are circulating about possible financial troubles, an insurance policy, real estate problems and family issues.  There has also been speculation in the community about whether the death was a murder or a suicide.  The Sublett family did not respond to a request for comment.

"People are clear that this wasn't an impulsive or random act of violence.  It either was self-inflicted or a professional hit," Fendig said, based on the amount of evidence at the scene.

"It's left the community very unsettled," he said.  "He was an elected official, a leader in his church and, on the surface, a strong family guy.  It's very disconcerting for everyone."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Missing Georgia Boys Found Safe in Texas, Dad in Custody

Courtesy of Theresa Nash(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Two missing Georgia boys have been found safe in Texas and their father has been taken into police custody.

Moments after pleading for her boys' return on television, the boys' mother Theresa Nash received a phone call from a citizen in Texas who said he was with her sons.

"I was in complete disbelief," Nash told ABC Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV as she was boarding a plane to pick up her sons. "He immediately put the phone to Ben and Henry and I talked to them. They were very, very shaken up."

Police in Austin, Texas, were notified when someone recognized the boys and their father at a motel after seeing them on TV.

"They were playing with a Nerf ball, went back inside, they were with Daddy and they came back out and somebody said, 'Put your hands up,' and everybody put their hands up," Nash said.

The boys' father Daniel Cleary was arrested without incident, police said.

"We don't know why he chose Austin," Austin Police Cpl. Wuthipong Tantaksinanuki told WSB-TV. "I know that after he was taken into custody, we did recover a handgun -- a pistol -- and a large sum of money."

Daniel Cleary, who will be extradited to Georgia, faces a charge of interstate interference with custody, a felony, and could face other charges, McGee said.

Benjamin and Henry Cleary had been missing since Wednesday from the greater Atlanta area.

Benjamin, 9, and Henry, 7, had plans to leave with their father, Daniel Cleary, on an overnight trip to Chattanooga, Tenn., on Dec. 22. When they failed to return as scheduled on Dec. 26, their mother, Theresa Nash, who does not live with the boys' father, went to his house to check on them, only to find the phone disconnected and the house empty.

An Amber Alert was issued for the boys.

"There is a court order for them to contact me every day," Nash told on Friday. "When I hadn't heard from them, and their father's phone was turned off, I went to their father's house to see if they were there. The house was cleared out as if they had moved."

Nash called Cleary "unstable," and said he had only been using cash since the boys went missing. Police said they had not found any charges on his credit card.

The three were spotted Friday at a Walmart in Jackson, Tenn., McGee said.

The boys were found on Henry's eighth birthday and were expected to be reunited with their mother on Sunday.

"They've been begging for an Xbox 360 for Christmas, and Santa brought them one so they need to come home because it's waiting," Nash said on Friday.

A prayer vigil that was scheduled for today at 2 p.m. in Georgia's Suwanee Town Center Park will be still be held for prayers of thanks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Besse Cooper, World’s Oldest Person, Dies at 116

Jessica McGowan/Guinness World Records(NEW YORK) -- Besse Cooper, the Monroe, Ga., woman listed as the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records, died on Tuesday.  She was 116.

Sidney Cooper said his mother had recently complained about a stomach virus but seemed to have bounced back by Monday.  After having her hair set on Tuesday, the supercentenarian had problems breathing, went to her room and passed away.

A funeral is planned for later this week.

Besse Cooper held the title of the world's oldest person for 18 months after Maria Gomes Valentim of Brazil died in June 2011.  Valentim was 114 at the time of her death.

Guinness has confirmed that Dina Manfredini, 115, of Johnston, Iowa, has taken Besse Cooper's place as the world's oldest person.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


WATCH: Pregnant Georgia Woman Rescued from Mangled Car

Morrow Police Department(MORROW, Ga.) -- A pregnant woman is recovering after quick-thinking firefighters and police worked together to pull her out of her mangled car.

The accident happened Wednesday in Morrow, Ga., 15 miles south of Atlanta, when the woman was driving a silver Toyota on Interstate 75.  Just before the Jonesboro exit, her car flipped over, sending her vehicle flying through the air and over another car also traveling on I-75.  The turbulent ordeal finally ended when her car came to a stop on a set of railroad tracks.

“The car was airborne and literally drove over the other car and continued airborne as it finally rested on the tracks,” said Capt. James Callaway of the Morrow Police Department.  ”In my 18 years with law enforcement, this is one of the strangest motor accidents I think I’ve ever seen.”

Morrow police have identified the pregnant driver as Taneka Grace.  The driver of the other vehicle involved is identified as Melissa Stenson and the passenger, Randolph Vaughn.

Callaway responded to the scene seconds after the emergency call, which was placed by his lieutenant, who witnessed the crash.  When he arrived, Callaway said Grace was incoherent but conscious.

When first responders arrived on the scene, they noticed gas leaking from the undercarriage of Grace’s car as it rested on the train tracks.

“She was visibly in pain and our first intention was to get her out of that car,” said Callaway.  “We contacted the railroad company and told them to stop all railroad traffic in the area.”

As onlookers watched, Callaway and members from the Morrow Fire and Police department worked to free Grace from the car while making sure no one else was in danger.

She was taken to Atlanta Medical Center, a trauma center, while Stenson and Vaughn were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

Grace remains in serious condition.  Stenson and Vaughn have both been treated and released, according to the Morrow Police Department.

Police investigators met with Grace inside the hospital on Thursday to get a statement from her as they try to figure out what led to the bizarre crash.

“We’re still looking into what caused the crash.  It’s going to be a very hard investigation,” said Callaway.  “We need to determine speed and actual cause.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Suspected Shoplifter Dies After Confrontation with Walmart Employees

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(LITHONIA, Ga.) -- A man suspected of shoplifting two DVD players from a Lithonia, Ga., Walmart on Sunday died after an altercation with two store employees and a contract security guard, prompting a police investigation.

The man, whose identity has not been released, exited through the front door of the store at 1:30 a.m. Sunday and was confronted in the parking lot, according to DeKalb County police.

When officers arrived at the scene, they found the employees on top of the middle-aged man, according to a police report obtained by ABC News affiliate WSB-TV.  When an officer bent down to handcuff the suspect, he noticed there was no resistance.

At that point, the officer noticed the suspect was bleeding from the nose and mouth, according to the report.  He was transported to DeKalb Medical-Hillandale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“This is truly a sad situation.  We don’t know all of the facts right now.  We’re in the process of working with law enforcement to determine all of the facts and cooperating and providing any information we have to assist in the investigation,” Walmart spokesperson Dianna Gee said in a statement issued to ABC News.

Gee said the contract security guard will no longer be providing services to the retailer.  The two store employees have been suspended with pay while Walmart assists police in the investigation.

“Our associates are trained that the safety of our customers and our associates is our first priority,” Gee said.  “No amount of merchandise is worth someone’s life.  Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk.  That being said, this is still an active investigation and we’re working with police to provide any assistance.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ga. Man Sentenced in Flight Attendant’s Murder, Stabbing of Her Child

Hemera/Thinkstock(MARRIETA, Ga.) -- Waseem Daker, the man convicted last week of murdering a Georgia woman and repeatedly stabbing her 5-year-old son, was sentenced Monday to life in prison, plus 47 years.

Karmen Smith was killed in her home in 1995. Her son was stabbed 18 times but survived.

Daker, who represented himself during his trial, argued again Monday that he was not guilty of the crimes.

“I did not kill Karmen Smith. I did not stab Nick Smith,” he said, "I hope that one day the truth comes out, because this is not it.”

But the judge in the case called Daker “a master manipulator.”

“I hope you never leave prison because that will be just,” Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley said.

Nick Smith, the son, now in his 20s, testified against Daker -- and was cross-examined by him -- during the trial.

“From what I could tell it was a man, but it was really dark and I just assumed that it was someone that I knew. … The person in the room grabbed me and started stabbing me a bunch and I tried to yell and he covered my mouth and then he kept stabbing me,” a teary-eyed Smith told the courtroom.

Before he was tried for Karmen Smith’s murder, Daker spent 10 years in prison for stalking Smith’s roommate, Loretta Spencer Blatz.

Blatz also testified against Daker at the trial.

Watch the full story on “20/20″ Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Accused Murderer Had 'How-to' Murder Books, Say Prosecutors

ABC News(MARIETTA, Ga.) -- Prosecutors in the Waseem Daker murder trial showed jurors that when he was arrested in 2009, they found rope, handcuffs and how-to manuals about getting away with murder in his possession.

In court Monday, jurors were presented with 12-year-old emails that prosecutors say prove Daker obtained disturbing materials before allegedly killing Karmen Smith in 1995 and stabbing her then 5-year-old son, Nick Smith, 18 times.  The "how-to" titles were How to Get Away with Murder and Kill Without Joy.

Daker is accused of strangling flight attendant Karmen Smith as an act of revenge against her roommate, Loretta Spencer Blatz, who helped send him to prison for harassing her.  Just before going to serve a 10-year prison sentence for stalking Blatz, prosecutors say Daker allegedly killed Smith.

Daker is acting as his own attorney in the Marietta, Ga., courtroom, which has made for some awkward questioning when Blatz and Nick Smith, now 22, took the stand.  Judge Mary Staley has nearly lost her cool a few times in this case, clearly annoyed with Daker's courtroom antics.

"There are numerous occasions during the trial that your veracity has been in strong question by me.  Strong!" said Staley.  

She added, "And you don't try cases by ambush."

Daker had long been a suspect in Karmen Smith's murder, but it wasn't until 2009 that, according to authorities, tests showed hairs found on Smith's body matched Daker's DNA.

Daker and prosecutors are fighting over those very DNA tests from the scene of the crime that police say cracked the case and led to his arrest.

Daker questioned homicide detective John Dawes on Monday, and asked why police did not submit every piece of evidence for DNA testing.

Dawes explained that once they had Daker's DNA linking him to the crime scene there was no need for more tests.

Daker could start arguing his innocence as soon as this afternoon and he could testify while acting as his own lawyer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Parents Allegedly Held Son Captive 4 Years, Sent Him on Bus to LA

Paulding County Sheriff's Office(DALLAS, Ga.) -- Emaciated and alone, Mitch Comer didn't even know his home address or what Georgia town he was from when last week, at the age of 18, he was discovered by a security guard at a Los Angeles bus station.

Joe Gonzalez, a security guard at the Greyhound station in downtown L.A., came upon Comer looking frightened and perplexed last Tuesday. After speaking to him for a bit, Gonzalez learned that the teen had arrived alone after a cross-country journey he was sent on by his stepfather.

Alarmed by what he was told by the frail teen, Gonzalez, a former police sergeant, notified the LAPD, who questioned Mitch.

"The story we got was that the stepfather took the kid to the bus depot, said 'Here's $200, here's a list of the homeless shelters in Los Angeles, you're a man now, and don't come back,'" LAPD Commander Andrew Smith told WABC.

Police soon learned from the frail teenager that his solo cross-country journey was just part of what the Paulding county sheriff's office in Dallas, Ga., where Mitch grew up, is calling "a severe case of child abuse and neglect."

Mitch told officers that his parents, Paul Comer, 48, and Sheila Comer, 39, had taken him out of school in the 8th grade and kept him locked in a bedroom for four years. According to Dick Donovan, the district attorney in Dallas, Paul Comer drove Mitch to a bus stop in Mississippi on his 18th birthday.

On Friday, police cars were parked outside the Georgia home where the young man said he was held captive by his stepfather and mother for most of his teenage years.

"We don't have any reason to believe that he's lying, based on his appearance, the stories he's told and the interview with his mom and dad," Ashley Henson, who's with the Paulding County Sheriff's Department, told ABC News.

Henson said that when he was found, Mitch, who is 5 foot 3 inches tall, weighted 87 pounds.

"He knew he had come from Paulding county, and what his name was. My understanding is that his father confessed, and said, 'Yes, I gave him a list of shelters and $200 and sent him to LA," Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan told ABC News.

The FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have now joined the investigation into what went on at the Comers' home.

John White, who has lived next door to the Comers since April, told ABC News that he rarely saw the couple, and that he was surprised to hear that there was a teenager living in the house. He said that he rarely saw the couple's girls.

"I'd see the girls in the yard, in the back yard riding their bikes. Never out of the yard, always in the back. They tried to socialize with the kids next door, but she told me the father wouldn't let them play," White said.

The girls, who Donovan said are 11 and 12, are now in the custody of the Paulding County Division of Family & Children Services.

According to Donovan, Mitch is the adopted son of Paul Comer, though Henson said the sheriff's office has yet to see any documentation that Mitch had actually been adopted by his stepfather.

Authorities said that once he was discovered by Gonzalez, Mitch spent a day at Exodus Recovery Center in L.A. and nearly a week in a local group home in L.A. This week, detectives and representatives from the Paulding County D.A.'s office flew to Los Angeles to retrieve Mitch. He arrived back Thursday, according to Henson, and now remains in Paulding County.

Paul and Sheila Comer are in custody after being arrested at their home in Dallas, an upscale Georgia suburb, after they were tracked down by authorities through their in-home business. They are now facing six counts of cruelty to children and one count of false imprisonment, and are being held without bond.

The Paulding County Sheriff's Office said that this is still an active case, and there may be more charges pending in the future.

A preliminary hearing and the hearing for their bond will be held on Oct. 4.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio