Earl Bolar’s phone call was overdue.
A month had passed since he caved in to his crack addiction and left his mother’s home in Waynesboro, Ga., for the streets of Augusta. Usually, about 30 days would pass before he called home and asked for a ride back to Burke County.
It was with relief at first, then, that Mattie Williams answered the phone and heard a Richmond County sheriff’s investigator on the line. He must be in jail this time, Williams assumed, she said this week.
Then the investigator told her that Bolar had been “hurt real bad.”
“That just blew my mind,” Williams said.
Bolar, 48, had been in jail Aug. 3 when he was beaten in the head while he slept on a holding cell floor, investigators said. Jeremy Gene Taylor, 30, the suspect, had been arrested that morning for breaking an old friend’s jaw with his fist, an arrest report shows.
Bolar was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, but Williams said he was kept alive only by the help of machines until Aug. 15.
“My son died right there,” she said, “before he even got to the hospital.”
The man named as the attacker, Taylor, had two previous attacks with his fists in the past two months, including the one Aug. 3 that landed him in the jail.
On June 26, Taylor was riding in a Ford Crown Victoria with his girlfriend and Ronnie Brown in Kite, about 72 miles southwest of Augusta in Johnson County. As the car crossed a bridge going into Kite, Taylor punched Brown in the face and bit his arm, according to a sheriff’s report.
The car hit the bridge several times as Brown tried to protect himself from the blows, a report states. Taylor’s girlfriend had stayed the night with Brown and his fiancee the night before “because of an assault on her by Mr. Taylor,” the report states.
Taylor was booked and charged with aggravated battery.
On Aug. 3, Taylor was in Augusta at Hale House in the 400 block of Walker Street, a halfway house that provides substance abuse counseling. Drew Roberts was staying at the house and recognized Taylor from high school in Swainsboro.
Roberts said Monday that he was talking with Taylor on Aug. 3 in the rear of the house, then looked down to send a text from his phone. He was suddenly struck in the face by Taylor and knocked out cold in what a Richmond County sheriff’s report says was an unprovoked attack.
Taylor was walking away when Roberts woke up; he was told by a witness that Taylor had hit him four more times while he was unconscious.
“I’ve never had a problem with him,” said Roberts, in a voice muffled by the surgery that wired his jaw shut. “He was never like this, never aggressive.”
Bolar’s family described him as a helpful, upbeat man who struggled with his addictions. His booking photo shows a man with bloodshot eyes, a scraggly beard and a tired expression.
Williams didn’t believe it was her son at first. He was always clean-shaven when his parents went to pick him up at a gas station or a fast-food restaurant.
“He never let us see him in that condition,” Williams said.
Court records show that Bolar has seven Richmond County shoplifting convictions from 1992 to 2009. Mostly he stole from Kroger and Kmart: deodorant, air fresheners, fishing line. He was convicted in 1993 of burglary, but never saw more than a handful of months in jail on the charges against him, including misdemeanor battery, giving a false name and “obscene and vulgar language.”
For years he would drift back home, but he stayed sober for three years the last time. It wouldn’t last. Just like all the times before, he gave no warning he was going to disappear. He just left for classes at Georgia Military College and never returned.
For all his faults, his mother said, he never stole from the family or hurt anyone. To the contrary, he was always willing to lend a hand and a word of encouragement, Williams said.
Even with his living on the streets, Bolar’s family didn’t expect he would die by violence. He was a peacemaker, said his father, Sidney Williams. To have him beaten to death while sleeping on the floor was senseless, he said.