One family’s prayers were answered Monday when a 52-year-old Augusta man was arrested in a murder case from 1986.
Jimmy Lee Riley was 26 when investigators were called to the home of Pauline McCoy, 87, in the 2000 block of Golden Rod Street in Hyde Park neighborhood because her friends had not seen her “for a period of time,” Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Blaise Dresser said in an e-mail.
Deputies found McCoy dead in her living room. The cause of death was listed as strangulation, blunt force trauma and stab wounds.
“My family and I have waited 26 years for justice to canvass the Earth looking for this perpetrator, who inflicted such pain on my grandmother and our family,” said the Rev. Eddie M. Dunbar. “She meant everything to us. Our prayers have been answered. May she continue to rest in peace with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
In an Augusta Chronicle story from the time, now-Sheriff Ronnie Strength, who was then a major in charge of the criminal investigation division, said neighbors began worrying about McCoy when she did not show up for church and her porch light stayed on during the day.
The story said McCoy was stabbed with a large knife, possibly a butcher knife. Strength said at the time that a side window had been forced open.
The case went cold even though Riley was an initial suspect. Dresser said investigators were unable to bring charges at the time. Recently, a sheriff’s investigator picked up the case and began looking for any forensic evidence that could be re-examined.
A crucial piece of evidence was found that directly linked Riley to McCoy’s homicide, Dresser said.
Riley was at his home in the 2300 block of Allen Avenue on Monday when he was arrested on charges of armed robbery, burglary, possession of a knife during the commission of a crime and murder.
Records indicate that Riley has an extensive criminal history, including a burglary conviction when he was 23. In 1987, a year after McCoy’s slaying, he was charged with rape. He was convicted in 1989.