EDITOR’S NOTE: The Chronicle begins an occasional series on unsolved deaths in our region.
Columbia County sheriff’s investigators might never know what happened to Craig Fallaw outside a West Lake security booth Oct. 6, 1978.
Senior Investigator Wynn Howard said most witnesses, any possible suspects and the officers who worked the case could be dead.
“It’s still open,” Howard said of the case. “A murder is never closed until it’s solved and then adjudicated.”
Fallaw, a 34-year-old security guard at West Lake subdivision, had walked over to investigate a man crouching in the bushes 10 yards from the gate entrance off Stevens Creek Road about 2 a.m. when he was shot in the head with a .38-caliber gun.
He had been a security guard off and on but had just been hired full time two weeks before the shooting.
Fallaw’s partner told police he heard him yell at someone. Two shots rang out, and then Fallaw’s partner saw someone run away. A knit ski mask and a bag of tools were left behind.
It was 1982 before police discovered the possible murder weapon along with a military duffel bag and ammunition. Construction workers found the rusted gun in a canister, along with two knives and a camera, buried two feet below ground in hard clay.
“It’s in bad condition,” Howard said of the gun.
Police never were positive it was the gun used to kill Fallaw. Ownership was traced to an Augusta man who had died before Fallaw, but the gun had been confiscated by a judge before the owner’s death.
Security personnel at West Lake indicated they obtained possession of the gun after it was confiscated, but it was stolen from them about 10 days before Fallaw was shot, according to a 1982 Chronicle article.
Howard said no link to an assailant was ever made.
Howard has been handed the three unsolved homicides in Columbia County to put a new set of eyes on them and use new technology, if possible, to close the case with an arrest.