Richmond County officials question man in triple homicide

 

Richmond County sheriff’s investigators on the trail of a triple homicide were led to the home of two retired teachers in south Augusta on Tuesday.

Sheriff Richard Roundtree said late Tuesday that they had taken a man into custody about 10 p.m. at an address off of Walton Way Extension. He was being questioned at the sheriff’s office.

Earlier, deputies had placed yellow crime scene tape around a home on Pinnacle Place Drive, and two sheriff’s crime scene investigators waited outside.

Richmond County deputies surrounded the home about 6 p.m. and entered it briefly, according to neighbors who watched the police arrive.

Roundtree said the investigators suspect the home was connected to the grisly discovery of three burned bodies in a wooded area behind Deer Chase Elementary School.

“We believe there is a connection, but we cannot say what it is at this point,” Roundtree said.

The bodies were found after a school janitor called to report a brush fire about noon behind the school, police said.

While extinguishing the blaze, firefighters came across the burning remains of two black men and a third person, possibly a black woman, Richmond County sheriff’s Sgt. Monica Belser said.

Chief Deputy Coroner Mark Bowen said the three unidentified people were pronounced dead at 2:30 p.m. and autopsies are scheduled to take place this morning at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab on Phinizy Road.

Bowen said the first priority would be identifying the bodies and determining a cause of death.

Authorities confirmed the bodies were damaged by fire but would not provide any more
information about the condition of the remains.

The bodies were located near a wooded area on Matthew Court in a newly developed part of the Walton Hills subdivision off Willis Foreman Road. Sgt. Calvin Chew said the bodies were found close to each other.

Chew said police wanted to avoid describing the crime scene in any way that might hamper the investigation or prosecution of those responsible. He said it was the first such triple homicide he’d seen in Richmond County.

Authorities have requested the state Fire Marshal’s Office assist with the investigation, said Glenn Allen, a spokesman for Georgia Insurance and Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens. Allen said a state fire investigator was being dispatched to Augusta.

“We are working with local authorities to do whatever we can do,” he said.

Neighbors said they had not seen the owners of the Pinnacle Place Drive home, Edna and Roosevelt Jones, nor had they seen their sons, all day Tuesday.

Cynthia Daly, who lives nearby on Pinnacle Way, said the husband and wife who lived there were retired Richmond County educators. Neighbors said Roosevelt Jones had once taught at Paine College before joining the faculty at Tutt Middle School. Edna Jones had retired from teaching at Jamestown Elementary School, where Daly has worked as a teaching assistant for 20 years.

“She was working at Jamestown when I started there,” said Daly, who was standing in a neighbor’s yard wondering what might have happened to her friend.

“We asked the police if they thought she was OK, and they said ‘No,’ ” said Marsha Vaughn, who lives next door to Daly.

Later that evening, investigators had three vehicles that were parked at the residence towed to the sheriff’s office on Walton Way.

Terrence Everett, 21, one of the many neighbors who came by the Jones home Tuesday evening, said he was worried about his friend, Russell, the younger of the Joneses’ two sons.

Everett said he and Russell Jones knew each other from Hephzibah High School, and that Russell was a sophomore at Fort Valley State University.

“I’m just preparing myself for the worst,” he said.

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