THOMSON - Local and state authorities are investigating another killing in McDuffie County - the second within two weeks.
The latest victim is 79-year-old Pate Morris, a retired farmer and fiddle player in a local bluegrass band, a family member told reporters Tuesday night.
McDuffie County Coroner Rhusha Mack pronounced Morris dead at the scene. An autopsy was expected to be performed to determine the exact cause of his death at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Augusta on Wednesday.
Morris' body was discovered on his driveway, according to Mike Ayers, special agent in charge of the GBI Region 7 Office in Thomson. The body was seen behind a parked car about 2:20 p.m. Tuesday, Ayers said.
Authorities remained tight-lipped about the case, but did confirm that they are working a homicide. It marks the second time in two weeks that a McDuffie County man has been slain. The other case reportedly has been solved.
Ayers, whose office is assisting the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department with the investigation, announced Tuesday night that a reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the death of Morris.
The victim lived at 573 Whiteoak Campground Road near the intersection with Stagecoach Road.
"This is a serious, serious homicide investigation," Ayers said. "This one is going to be tough."
Ayers declined to discuss the case in detail, but said he is hopeful the reward money might provide the kind of information needed to solve the case. He refused to say if Morris had been shot to death, stabbed or beaten.
"We don't want to release that sort of information at this time," Ayers said.
A host of GBI agents combed an area around where Morris' Oldsmobile car was left parked in his driveway. The driver-side door had been left open.
GBI Crime Scene Specialist Steve Foster and Pat Morgan, assistant special agent in charge of the local GBI office were seen using a rake to sift through leaves around Morris' mailbox.
Other GBI agents on the scene included Tony Williamson, Woody Boyd and Joe Brown. The sheriff's department was represented by Maj. Ronnie Williamson, Investigator Larry Adaway, Sgt.1st Class Mike Hobbs, Deputy Marc Thompson and Deputy Jared Land.
Anyone with information that might be helpful to authorities is asked to contact the GBI at (706) 595-2575 or the sheriff's department at (706) 595-2040.
Reach Billy W. Hobbs at firstname.lastname@example.org.