Third arrest made in Bronzi Peppers cold case

Charges come in man's 1975 slaying
Charles Allen Chavous

Sheriff's investigators have arrested a third suspect in the 1975 slaying of Bronzi Leon Peppers.

Charles Allen Chavous, 59, was arrested Tuesday at his home in the 1500 block of Clayton Road in Hephzibah. He is charged with murder, according to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's Lt. Calvin Chew said one more arrest is possible, but declined to give further information.

Peppers was shot to death in his yard Feb. 3, 1975. Investigators say he had stolen a large quantity of marijuana from drug dealer Tony Ray Ouzts.

Ouzts rounded up several men to accompany him to Peppers' house to ransom him in exchange for the drugs, investigators say.

Peppers, a skilled martial artist, warded off his attackers until Ouzts shot him in the head, according to investigators. His accomplices fled and remained hidden for decades, apparently unaware the sheriff's office had no record of the murder, investigators say. The file documenting Peppers' death was destroyed along with others from the late 1970s and early '80s when the sheriff's criminal investigation division flooded.

A tip received in August, however, reopened interest in the case and led to the arrests on Feb. 5 of William Lawrence Coffey III, 58, in Oklahoma and Mark Anthony Hill, 53, on Roberson Drive in Augusta. Ouzts died in a car wreck in Columbia County during the early 1990s, authorities said.