Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Calvin Chew said more information was found to confirm suspicions that burglary was the motive for the shooting of Johnny Luckey, who was dead when police found him around 11:30 p.m.
Luckey's closest neighbors on Hoods Lane, who live about 500 feet away, made the initial call to authorities to report "suspicious behavior," Chew said.
Resident Kevin Mitchell said he thinks he might have heard a gunshot around the time of the killing, but he assumed it was children playing with fireworks, which is common in the area.
Deputies were initially told two men were seen fleeing Luckey's house on foot.
Damien Pruiett said he was in his backyard smoking around the time of the shooting, and he saw a car go slowly down the lane toward the house, then speed away about a half-hour later.
He said his house has been broken into three times in eight years.
"I wish they would keep a little bit more of a police presence here because even though it's off the road, nobody thinks about it," he said.
Chew said his staff is looking into the number of burglary reports in the area.
At least three houses on nearby Longfellow Drive have been burglarized, including Mitchell's. He said burglars broke into his home and his next-door neighbor's in December 2009.
Those crimes led Bianca Woodard to install a security system two months after moving just down the road.
"It's gotten progressively worse on this side of town," she said.
Hattie Hammond has lived on Longfellow Drive since the houses were built in 2001, and she said it's been mostly peaceful. She said her next-door neighbor's home was burglarized, however.
Officers distributed fliers with a picture of Luckey and an offer of a cash reward for any information.
Chew said other than the neighbors who called police, no one knew Luckey, and many didn't recognize him.
It is the sixth homicide in Richmond County this year.