14-year-old accused of killing stepsister

Richmond County authorities arrested a 14-year-old accused of fatally shooting his stepsister in the head at least 10 times as she slept Friday afternoon.


Eric Lee Phillips Whitehead was charged with murder and one count of a firearm during the commission of a crime, Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Peebles said.

Police believe Mr. Whitehead shot 22-year-old Patricia Leigh Troglen with a 22-caliber rifle as she slept on a couch at her home in the 5000 block of Neely Road. Ms. Troglen's stepmother found her body at the home about 3 p.m. Friday. She was pronounced dead at 4 p.m.

Mr. Whitehead had been temporarily staying at the home of his stepfather, Ms. Troglen's father, but he had been floating between different homes, Lt. Peebles said.

"He had lived a lot of his teen years from place to place," he said. "He would be in between getting in trouble and running away."

Deputies determined that Mr. Whitehead was the last person with Ms. Troglen before her death. Investigators for Richmond and Columbia counties began a search for the 14-year-old. Columbia County sheriff's deputies eventually found him at a friend's home.

Authorities also found Ms. Troglen's vehicle abandoned at a Raceway convenience store on Gordon Highway near Bobby Jones Expressway. Police believe Mr. Whitehead is connected to the theft.

Mr. Whitehead confessed to investigators that he had a dream about him and Ms. Troglen arguing Friday, Lt. Peebles said. He awoke Friday afternoon enraged by the dream, which, he said, led him to take a rifle out of his stepfather's room.

"They had not had any problems before," Lt. Peebles said. "He pretty much considered her to be his best friend."

Police will charge Mr. Whitehead as an adult. There are no other suspects. Ms. Troglen's body will be taken to the GBI Crime Lab in Augusta for an autopsy this morning.

Mr. Whitehead is being held at the Richmond County Regional Youth Development Center.

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.