3 arrested after hunters find Ft. Stewart soldier's body

Motive, details of slaying remain mystery to police

Three arrests have been made in the Tuesday slaying of a Fort Stewart soldier, said Deputy William Terrell of the Camden County Sheriff’s Office.

Spc. Jeffrey Cole Eicher, 23, of Fort Stewart, Aaron James Paxton, 36, of St. Marys, and Timothy Dale Pennington, 39, of Kingsland, were arrested Tuesday night and Wednesday morning on murder charges in the death of Spc. James A. Willis, 25, Terrell said.

Willis was a member of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, where the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command is working with other agencies  investigating his death.

Eicher is assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division, the Army said.

Two hunters emerging from woods beside Union Carbide Road at Harriet’s Bluff about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday saw Willis’ body lying 20 feet off the road near an entrance to Cabin Bluff.

Investigators are still trying to determine a motive in the slaying and also awaiting a cause of death from a Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab.

The Sheriff’s Office, GBI, the Army, Kingsland Police Department and Liberty County Sheriff’s Office worked on the crime overnight and arrests were made, officials said.

Investigators theorized Tuesday that there was some local connection for someone to drive nine miles off Interstate 95 to either kill Willis or dump his body in the remote area.

Although Bayer CropScience has a plant farther down the road from where Willis’ body was found, traffic is typically light, Terrell said. The dead-end road is the only access to the area.

terry.dickson@jacksonville.com, (912) 264-0405




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