Richmond County authorities are searching for a 1987 Chevrolet Camaro they suspect is connected to an early-morning homicide in Hephzibah.
Sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles said the Camaro Z-28 was a high-performance IROC model that was missing from the scene. Neighbors said the car belonged to the victim, identified as Michael T. Wickert, 48.
Sheriff’s deputies found Wickert early Wednesday in the home of Susan McCracken in the 1600 block of Keron Way. The mobile home sits at the end of a dirt driveway shared by several neighbors in the rural neighborhood near the Burke County line.
Deputy Coroner Kenneth Boose said Wickert was pronounced dead at 8:15 a.m. and an autopsy was scheduled for today at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab.
Authorities would not discuss the cause of death, but police on the scene described the killing as “brutal.”
Neighbors said Wickert was a “nice man” who worked as a contract electrician at a south Augusta industrial plant. He lived in a camper that sat behind the McCracken home, neighbors said.
Neighbor Bobby Dean said he didn’t hear any gunshots or loud noises early Wednesday but that in retrospect he did see that some things that seemed suspicious.
Dean said he went outside his mother’s mobile home at 4:17 a.m. to smoke a cigarette and noticed a man he knows walking toward the McCracken home. He later saw another “tall, slender” man walking in the same direction. After that, Dean said he went back inside.
Not long after, Dean said, he and his mother were roused by Wickert’s girlfriend, known to them as “Leslie.”
Dean’s mother, Hilda Welch, said the woman came to their door about 5 a.m. She said Leslie was known to stay with Wickert from time to time and was obviously upset and looking for a ride to North Augusta.
“She said they were fighting next door,” Welch said.
Welch said the woman was half-dressed, so she gave her a blanket and told her that she could stay on the porch but that she would have to get a ride elsewhere.
Neighbors Sandi and Hank Lashley said the woman next came to their house.
“I gave her a shirt and a pair of pants,” Sandi Lashley said. “She was only wearing a man’s tank top, underwear and a pink blanket.”
Lashley said that he gave her a ride to Goshen Industrial Boulevard but that she didn’t say anything about a fight or anyone being hurt.
“If I had known anything about any of what went on over there, I wouldn’t have taken her nowhere,” he said. “I would have called 911.”