'Disarray' at officer's home detailed

A tape-recorded interview with serial killer Reinaldo Rivera and a 911 call recording from one of his victims were among the police documents and evidence a Richmond County sheriff's investigator left behind when he moved out of an apartment earlier this year.

 

The discovery of those items, several "cold case" murder files, SWAT gear, a personal gun and ammunition led to last month's demotion and suspension of former Sgt. Richard Roundtree, one of the county's most effective and high-profile investigators.

Prosecutors have said they have so far found no indication the lost evidence compromised any criminal cases.

Sheriff's officials revealed details of the evidence Friday after a Freedom of Information request from The Augusta Chronicle . Discovered by the new owners of the apartment in July were boxes containing materials related to investigations into murders from 1986 to 2003.

Among them were the original files of several well-publicized deaths, including the unsolved cases of 18-year-old Natalie Clark and 9-year-old Tiffany Hawes.

Investigator Roundtree, now working in the property crimes division, would not discuss the cases Friday and referred all comment to Sheriff Ronnie Strength. The sheriff did not immediately respond to a Friday afternoon phone call.

The sheriff's office previously said two closed case files were left in the Telfair Street apartment also. Those included the shooting death of 57-year-old grandmother Margaret Ann King, who was killed during a robbery in 2003 at the Central Avenue gas station where she worked.

The other involved the fatal shooting of Chris Michael Price in 1996.

Also found was SWAT gear, including a partial case of .40-caliber ammunition, one F-18 handheld smoke grenade and one 37 mm barricade penetrating gas round. A personal rifle was also found.

A search of Investigator Roundtree's office after the initial violations were discovered revealed several files in "states of disarray" and documents strewn about.

"The search also revealed that several original documents, such as search warrants, waiver of counsel forms and original property receipts, were scattered loosely about the office, either not with their original files or not returned as they should have been," Lt. Scott Peebles wrote in a disciplinary action form. "There were also original audio and video files which had not been turned in as they should have been."

Investigator Roundtree returned from extended training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., last month to face a disciplinary review board Sept. 15. He was cited for failing to care for county property and unsatisfactory performance.

According to records obtained by The Chronicle , it was the seventh time he received disciplinary action from the department.

Since 1996, Investigator Roundtree has received 16 days of suspension and two written warnings, according to his personnel file.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

CASE FILES FOUND

Five "cold case" files and two closed case files were found in Investigator Richard Roundtree's apartment in July. Victims in the "cold cases" include:

JULIAN HAWES JR., 64, of 1862 Gordon Highway -- Mr. Hawes' daughter and granddaughter found his body in the living room Aug. 27, 1993. He had been shot and bled to death while making his way to the family room.

NATALIE CLARK, 18, of 4686 Fulcher Road -- Ms. Clark, an Augusta State University student and former Augusta Chronicle teen board writer, was suffocated in the backyard of her Hephzibah home. She was found dead in October 2003.

TIFFANY ELIZABETH NELSON, 9, of 2308 Getzen Drive -- Tiffany went missing June 6, 1994 while filling her bicycle tires at the Amoco gas station at Lumpkin and Richmond Hill roads. Her bones were discovered May 16, 2005, off Farmers Bridge Road in Burke County.

PAULINE MCCOY, 87, of 2030 Golden Rod Street -- Ms. McCoy was found stabbed to death at her home after neighbors became worried when she didn't attend church. She had been stabbed multiple times with a large knife Dec. 21, 1986.

BOISE EUGENE HANKERSON JR., 20, of 1546 Wooten Road -- Mr. Hankerson was shot dead as he pulled into a Citgo station at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 15th Street on Dec. 6, 1998.

Source: Sheriff's records and Augusta Chronicle archives.

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