Fingerprints led to arrest in cold case, family says

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 6:52 PM
Last updated Wednesday, June 6, 2012 1:27 AM
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The evidence that led to the arrest of a man 26 years after he allegedly killed an 87-year-old woman was fingerprints, a family member said Tuesday.

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Jimmy Lee Riley was arrested Monday in connection with a cold case from 1986.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Jimmy Lee Riley was arrested Monday in connection with a cold case from 1986.


The Rev. Dennis Dunbar, Pauline McCoy’s grandson, said Richmond County Sheriff’s investigator Ashley Pletcher told him fingerprints on his grandmother’s windowsill and one that was smeared in blood linked Jimmy Riley to her death.

Lt. Blaise Dresser, the supervisor of violent crimes, wouldn’t comment on Dunbar’s statement, but said in the last month or so Pletcher came across something that connected Riley directly to the murder.

“Things were a lot different in 1986,” Dresser said, commenting on the advancement in crime technology.

Riley was at his home in the 2300 block of Allen Avenue on Monday morning when he was arrested on charges of armed robbery, burglary, possession of a knife during the commission of a crime and murder.

Deputies found McCoy stabbed to death in the living room of her Hyde Park home in 1986. The cause of death was listed as strangulation, blunt force trauma and stab wounds, according to a release by Dresser.

The case went cold at the time, only to be reopened periodically throughout the years. Recently, it was reexamined by Pletcher.

“(Pletcher) has a fascination with cold cases,” Dresser said. “Periodically she will check them.”

As soon as she had a positive ID, Dresser said he and Pletcher immediately started working the case.

McCoy’s murder was not the first violent death her family has dealt with.

A year before she died, McCoy’s oldest son was stabbed in New York City. That case remains unsolved.

“Why has our family had to go through this twice?” asked her other grandson, the Rev. Eddie Dunbar. “I still don’t know the answer to that.”

Dunbar traveled with McCoy to New York to identify her son and his father. He remembers his grandmother being strong.

“(Riley) took a lot away from our lives,” he said. “She was a strong woman, a proud woman. She was everything you could want in a grandmother.”

Dennis Dunbar vividly remembers the day he got a call from then-Maj. Ronnie Strength telling him he needed to get to his grandmother’s house as soon as possible. He was putting on a Christmas program at North Augusta Baptist Church.

“It’s still like it just happened yesterday,” Dunbar said. “I wondered who she called for, was it me? Was it my brother?”

Growing up, the brothers spent nearly every weekend with McCoy. They would walk to Broad Street and have hot dogs and soda.

McCoy was a straight talker, her grandsons said, always giving life advice.

“She always said, ‘You might get by, but you never get away’,” said Dennis Dunbar. “What she meant is, you will always have to answer for what you’ve done.”

That statement strikes a particular note with him considering the events of the past two days, he said.

Dunbar said Riley’s face looks vaguely familiar but he does not recognize his name, even though Riley lived in McCoy’s neighborhood at the time.

“I have forgiven him ... I will not spend a lot of time thinking about him,” Eddie Dunbar said. “I will reflect on the goodness of my grandmother.”

Both brothers said they appreciated the Richmond County Sheriff’s investigators determination to find their grandmother’s killer.

“We are forever indebted to them for not giving up,” Eddie Dunbar said. “We finally have some closure.”

Comments (21) Add comment
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Jake
34040
Points
Jake 06/05/12 - 06:12 pm
8
0
Fingerprints

First of all I am glad that they have enough evidence to arrest the suspect.
Secondly, if the fingerprints have been around all these years then why was he not arrested way back then?
Thirdly, anyone who would kill a defenseless elderly woman should be treated the same way he treated her.

raul
5729
Points
raul 06/05/12 - 07:06 pm
6
0
@Jake, I agree with all your

@Jake, I agree with all your statements. Your second statement, however, was the one that first came to my mind as I perused the article.

Austin Rhodes
2989
Points
Austin Rhodes 06/05/12 - 07:09 pm
8
1
Without betraying a confidence...

I think it can be accurately stated that there is equipment today that "sees things better" than was available in 1986.

Retired Army
17513
Points
Retired Army 06/05/12 - 07:27 pm
3
6
OMG a thumbs up for Austin.

OMG a thumbs up for Austin. He must be getting smarter cause I know I ain't.

Jake
34040
Points
Jake 06/05/12 - 07:43 pm
5
0
Thanks

@Austin, thank you for that bit of info. I wonder if they kept the window "seal" after all these years and the blood smudge on whatever it was on or if it was based upon microscopic examination of photos? Criminology is getting a lot more sophisticated and that is good news for all of the innocent victims of crime.

Austin Rhodes
2989
Points
Austin Rhodes 06/05/12 - 08:46 pm
9
1
Close call...

The file on this case (not the evidence itself) was in the pile of stuff recovered from the abandoned apartment of former Investigator Richard Roundtree.

Had it not been reported, and returned to the RCSD, there is a pretty good chance we would still have a murder mystery on our hands.

AutumnLeaves
10250
Points
AutumnLeaves 06/05/12 - 09:01 pm
6
0
I wonder....

Why is this piece of evidence being reported? If this is true, is it in the best interest to make this information public? On the other hand, why hasn't a list of the murder cases that were left in the apartment been made public? Or would that open up a can of worms? I'd like to see what THAT bait would catch.

Equaltreatmentforall
49
Points
Equaltreatmentforall 06/05/12 - 09:07 pm
4
0
‘You might get by, but you never get away’.”

‘You might get by, but you never get away’.” It's so good to see Justice served. Think about this all you thugs who think you've gotten away scot free. Hopefully, one day when you least expect you'll be found out and you'll get a knock at your door.

Austin Rhodes
2989
Points
Austin Rhodes 06/05/12 - 09:13 pm
6
1
It is all in an article that ran on the topic a while back...

You can look it up. There was no physical evidence in the apt....just the narrative file...the synopsis of the case. Still...very important to have because it details the collected evidence.

AutumnLeaves
10250
Points
AutumnLeaves 06/05/12 - 09:16 pm
3
0
Austin...

Was this the odd coincidence you mentioned someone had noticed when they searched for the words McCoy and Roundtree looking for something else? Is Lowell McCoy also related to her or not?
"Originally created 08/22/01
Across the area
By From Staff and Wire Reports
AUGUSTA
Police post reward in 1994 homicide

Authorities are offering a $5,000 reward for information on a 7-year-old homicide case.

On April 24, 1994, Lowell McCoy, 17, was walking from work to his house on Northview Road. Neighbors heard gunshots and found Mr. McCoy lying outside in the 2300 block of Cumming Road, according to Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Richard Roundtree.

Mr. McCoy was shot in the stomach and abdomen. He underwent surgery at Medical College of Georgia Hospital but died.

The governor's office is contributing $3,000, and the sheriff's office is offering $2,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case. Anyone with information can call the sheriff's office at 821-1020 or 821-1080 after hours."

KSL
143604
Points
KSL 06/05/12 - 09:57 pm
5
1
If finger print evidence from

If finger print evidence from the crime that many years ago has been improved are we not at least owed some sort of explanation re the improvement?

debbiep38
460
Points
debbiep38 06/05/12 - 10:06 pm
0
0
RA, you only admit that
Unpublished

RA, you only admit that because you're watching the recall results.

itsanotherday1
48276
Points
itsanotherday1 06/05/12 - 11:27 pm
6
0
“(Pletcher) has a fascination

“(Pletcher) has a fascination with cold cases,” Dresser said. “Periodically she will check them.”

Bless her heart!! I hope she solves a lot more. I hope a lot of perps have sleepless nights, not knowing when they will get a knock on the door.

HighSociety
1841
Points
HighSociety 06/05/12 - 11:40 pm
4
0
Great job RCSO!

Great job RCSO!

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/06/12 - 02:57 am
5
0
It's not so much improvement

It's not so much improvement in the equipment. The prints from the suspect in 1986 were indeterminate. He was arrested later for something else & due to newer (better quality) prints when Ashley Pletcher looked into the cold case they were able to match this time. The original retired GBI agent looked at new prints before they concluded it was him.

KSL
143604
Points
KSL 06/06/12 - 04:30 am
4
0
JBA, thanks for the

JBA, thanks for the explanation, but it doesn't answer my question. I don't question their decision. I'm just curious.

Austin Rhodes
2989
Points
Austin Rhodes 06/06/12 - 07:00 am
3
0
Yes, improvement

Fingerprints are not the ONLY evidence being re-examined. But Riley was arrested the year after this murder for the rape of another elderly woman, not far from where McCoy was killed. They had "new" fingerprints from him for several other subsequent arrests as well. It is a fingerprint from the murder scene that has been re-evaluated, NOT a new print taken for comparison.

I interviewed Tom Johnson yesterday, the RC CSI tech was the one that made this match, no retired GBI agent. The print FROM THE SCENE was indeterminate, NOT the comparative prints. They have better techniques now to evaluate smudged or incomplete prints that were not available until recently.

Good to see you River.

Austin Rhodes
2989
Points
Austin Rhodes 06/06/12 - 06:56 am
3
0
AutumnLeaves...

There was no connection with the case you listed.

Reporters both at Channel 12 and the Chronicle came across the Roundtree connection as they were researching the name of Pauline McCoy for their reports. I hear he is not a happy camper (campaigner).

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 06/06/12 - 07:21 am
6
0
Austin, he shouldn't be happy

Austin, he shouldn't be happy but the truth hurts. He is trying to be sherriff but his careless actions as an officer of the law could very well have kept this case unsolved. Some people may forget things but I don't and if I did live in RC he would never get my vote. What kind of professional leaves files from crimes behind like trash when they move? Knowing some of the folks in RC though he will be the one to get the job. Glad I don't live there...

redapples
681
Points
redapples 06/06/12 - 07:55 am
5
0
Great job to the tech that

Great job to the tech that made the scientific connection that will hopefully to lead to a rightful conviction!

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/06/12 - 09:18 am
4
0
"I interviewed Tom Johnson

"I interviewed Tom Johnson yesterday, the RC CSI tech was the one that made this match, no retired GBI agent."

Tom Johnson is a fantastic person, officer and great tech. He asked the original retired GBI agent to confirm the prints were a match. A wise thing to do and he did. Check your facts.

kiwiinamerica
982
Points
kiwiinamerica 06/06/12 - 09:49 am
0
0
Ding, dong.......someone's at the door!
Unpublished

Bet Riley got one almighty surprise when he opened his front door yesterday! I'm sure he long ago concluded that he'd successfully slipped through the cracks for this crime.

marien
29
Points
marien 06/06/12 - 10:42 am
0
1
I glad that the crime was

I glad that the crime was finally solve, but the way it is being discuss on here as if it wasn't an elelction year it maynot have been looked at. Just another avenue to shed a little dirt on a name.

rebellious
21851
Points
rebellious 06/06/12 - 11:47 am
2
0
marien

When a citizen proffers for such a hugh office as Sheriff, they will and should be scrutinized as to job performance, character and fiscal responsibility. Another case found in Roundtree's apt was of Natalie Clark. Both Roundtree and Peebles have worked on this Unsolved murder case of a young teenager.

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