ATHENS, Ga. -- Someone shot a Monroe man then dumped his body into a well on vacant property in Oglethorpe County’s Sandy Cross community, according to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation official.
An autopsy that was completed Wednesday also determined that 25-year-old Charles Stephen Parker may have been in the well since the day he went missing more than a month ago, said Jim Fullington, special agent in charge of the GBI’s Athens regional office.
“The condition of the body was consistent with the amount of time he’d been missing,” Fullington said.
Parker was last seen alive Jan. 15. His wife reported him missing the next day, and some men found his body in the well off Sandy Cross Road on Monday morning.
Parker had been shot more than once, according to Fullington, who would not say whether the shooting happened on the property where Parker’s body was found, if there are any suspects, or anything else about the case.
“At this point, it’s a homicide investigation and we don’t want to discuss anything that could mess up the integrity of the investigation,” the GBI agent said.
Fullington on Tuesday said that investigators thoroughly searched the property where Parker’s body was found and were tracking new leads in the case.
Parker, who lived in Monroe with his wife, was an assistant manager at a Bank of America branch in Athens and also a Sunday school teacher.
GBI agents, Monroe police and other law enforcement officials had suspected foul play in Parker’s disappearance almost from the beginning.
Family members last saw Parker leaving Anointed Word Evangelistic Tabernacle Church in Lithonia early the afternoon of Jan. 15. He was supposed to drive to Athens and pick up a prospective business partner to look at investment property in Madison County, authorities said.
The Athens man told investigators that Parker dropped him off at his home between 4 and 4:30 p.m. that day, but authorities only have the man’s word and no one to corroborate his story.
That night, someone found Parker’s wallet in Athens, and the next afternoon a different person found a gym bag with Parker’s clothes not far from where the wallet was found, authorities said.
On Jan. 16, authorities tracked Parker’s cellphone to the Smithonia community in Oglethorpe County, but they couldn’t locate the phone.
An Athens-Clarke police officer found Parker’s black 2010 Chrysler 300 early the morning of Jan. 18, parked on Hoyt Street near College Avenue and in the same general area as Parker’s other belongings.
As days and weeks passed, Parker’s family held out hope he was still alive and offered a $10,000 reward for information.
But Friday evening, Oglethorpe County resident Richard Benton smelled a foul odor while walking on an unused piece of property in the Sandy Cross community. He and a couple of other men returned to the site with a flashlight and binoculars Monday and saw a leg with a boot on it at the bottom of the well.
Members of the Athens-Clarke fire-rescue unit removed the body. Based on a tattoo, authorities tentatively identified it as Parker’s body.
Benton remained at the scene to answer questions, he said, and he believes investigators found blood evidence near the well because a deputy asked him if he had cut himself while there.
Authorities asked anyone with information regarding this investigation to call the GBI’s Athens regional office at (706) 552-2309.