The body of Jennifer Kitchen Wells, 36, of the 3000 block of Anthony Lane in Gibson, was recovered about five miles west of the Happy Valley Store south of Thomson, where the shooting occurred about 10:19 p.m. Thursday.
A blood trail began with a pool across the southbound lane of Wrens Highway. It trailed through the dirt parking lot of the Happy Valley Store, then west for miles on the westbound lane of Happy Valley Road.
Ricky Charles Wells, 43, of the 900 block of Hobbs Mill Road near Dearing, and Tina Ann Wells, 40, of the 1200 block of Davis Circle in Boneville, were arrested in neighboring Warren County by Glascock County sheriff’s deputies. The suspects were taken to the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center in Thomson.
Pat Morgan, the agent in charge for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, could not confirm the relationship among the three people who shared the same last name. He said interviews and investigation will continue.
Morgan and McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall confirmed there was evidence at the scene of the victim’s body being dragged.
“At this time I’m not going to get into why it was so vicious,” he said.
Marshall, whose department was first to respond to the scene, said there was blood evidence near the store and indications that two vehicles had left the scene.
Calls went out to nearby agencies. Thomson police set up a roadblock. Warren and Glascock county deputies were on alert.
“Two vehicles were spotted in the area of Purvis School Road and Georgia Highway 80, which is actually in Warren County,” Marshall said. “From that location, Glascock County sheriff’s officers approached the two vehicles, and it was determined that the two occupants were suspects in the shooting at the Happy Valley Store in McDuffie County.”
Morgan said an autopsy is scheduled today at the GBI Crime Lab in Atlanta. He would not discuss the condition of the body.
The victim lived with her two children in a mobile home community along Beech Tree Acres Road in Gibson.
“She was a good neighbor,” Tony Radford said. “She kept to her herself and took care of her two children. She was always home.”
Radford said Wells delivered newspapers in Thomson. He said she worked at Balloon Delights in Thomson until the February fire that closed several businesses in a Hill Street building. She also had worked as a waitress at a restaurant and club in Gibson, he said.
“She was a good person. She’d do anything for you,” he said. “She never said anything bad about anybody.”
Morgan said cooperation among agencies was key to making the arrests.
“If it hadn’t been for this teamwork, we’d probably be standing here today asking for the public’s help in identifying these suspects,” he said.
Residents near the rural store reacted in shock.
“I could not imagine someone doing something like that,” Sabrina Thomas said.
She said she lives near a section of the road that was closed until late Friday morning as deputies recovered evidence.
Rob Thomas said the crime was hard to believe.
“Cold-blooded is one thing,” he said. “But the cruelty. You’d never think that in this country.”