Originally created 08/15/97

Local and area briefs



Investigators say they need help

Investigators need the public's help in finding two men who broke into a couple's home last weekend and robbed them at gunpoint.

Lamont Dunn, 20, and Rodriquez Hamilton, 19, are wanted for armed robbery and weapons charges for a Monday morning break-in to a couple's home in the 400 block of Fairhope Street, said Richmond County Sheriff's Investigator Mark Bowen.

The two are considered armed and dangerous, Investigator Bowen said, and police believe they are still in the area.

About 2 a.m. Monday, the two are believed to have gone to the couple's home armed with guns and stole money, clothes and a 1981 Chevrolet Caprice, Investigator Bowen said. He said the suspects knew one of the victims.

Mr. Dunn also is wanted on a previous warrant for aggravated assault in a 1996 shooting, he said.

Anyone with information should call the Richmond County Sheriff's Department at 706-821-1020 or 706-821-1080.

Augusta babysitter arrested

An Augusta babysitter was arrested Thursday and charged with child molestation in an assault on an 8-year-old boy she cared for, according to reports.

Tonjala Freeny, 21, of Madison Road faces a molestation charge stemming from an Aug. 5 incident. According to Richmond County Sheriff's Department reports, the boy was taken to a place on Augusta Tech Drive. The boy told his mother that Ms. Freeny forced him to touch her and then she removed his pants and fondled him, reports say.

Ms. Freeny is being held in the Richmond County Jail.

Man robbed at gunpoint

An Augusta man was robbed at gunpoint while he was withdrawing cash from a bank money machine early Thursday morning, according to police reports.

Marcus Eugene Odom, 40, was withdrawing $20 from SouthTrust Bank at 3131 Washington Road about 5 a.m. Thursday, reports show.

A robber approached him pointing two pistols at him and demanded money, according to reports. Mr. Odom gave the thief his money and drove away.

The gunman is described as a black male, wearing a black ski mask and dark clothing.

Nominations sought for awards

Nominations are being accepted for the annual Women of Excellence Awards, sponsored by Central Savannah River Girl Scout Council. The awards honor women in arts, community service, education, health, government, professions and youth.

Recipients are chosen from nominations made by members of the community based on accomplishments, leadership qualities, impact on others in the community and their serving as role models for women and girls.

For more information or to obtain nomination forms, contact the Girl Scout Service Center at 774-0505 or (803) 648-0984. Nominations must be received by Tuesday, Aug. 19. Awards will be presented Friday, Oct. 24.

Plane crashes in heavy fog

DALTON, Ga. - A charter airplane flying to Dalton crashed in heavy fog short of the Dalton Municipal Airport Thursday morning, killing the pilot, a sheriff's officer said.

Paul Delafield Malay, 29, of Athens was the only person on board the King Air BE 200 plane, which seats 12 people.

"The airplane should not have been executing an approach under these conditions," said airport manager Harvey Halman. The runway was open and its lights were on, but the staff had not arrived for the day when the plane crashed in a field at 6:10 a.m., Mr. Halman said.

Official groundbreaking held

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - The official groundbreaking for the Mall of Georgia has been held on a landscape of hundreds of acres of already-exposed red clay.

The groundbreaking, celebrated with an invitation-only barbecue luncheon, coincided with the 74th birthday of developer D. Scott Hudgens. They plan to hold the mall's grand opening in two years on Mr. Hudgens' 76th birthday, Aug. 13, 1999.

200 gather for ceremony

CARROLLTON, Ga. - More than 200 students, faculty and other members of the community gathered Thursday at the State University of West Georgia to remember those killed and injured in a van accident.

The van carrying 12 members of the school's cheerleading squad to a camp at Myrtle Beach, S.C., flipped over Sunday on Interstate 20 in Taliaferro County. Cheerleader coach Stephanie Shaw, 27, of Forest Park and sophomore cheerleader DeAndre Hamilton, 20, of Snellville were killed.

Of those injured, eight remained hospitalized.

Convention center expands

ATLANTA - The Georgia World Congress Center, which already has nearly 1 million square feet of exhibit space, will be expanded, the governor's office said Thursday.

Gov. Zell Miller said an agreement had been reached with legislative leaders to appropriate $10.5 million next year to plan and design the project.

The center's exhibit area should be expanded by 700,000 square feet if it is to compete with other convention centers.

Hall of Fame well attended

MACON - Tourists through the turnstiles haven't been as frequent as had been predicted. But there are no tears at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

Truth is, the news about Macon's 1-year-old attraction is nearly all good, and that's music to the ears of the hall's officials.

An average of 6,000 people per month are visiting the music museum, and it will make money in its first year of operation, according to figures released Thursday by the hall of fame authority.

Religious speaker innocent

PICKENS, S.C. - A Pickens County jury has found a former religious and motivational speaker innocent of charges he committed a lewd act on two girls at a summer camp.

Christopher Lee Allen, 23, had been accused of putting his hand between the legs of two 12-year-old girls in 1995 at Table Rock Wesleyan Camp, a weeklong religious camp for 12- to 15-year-olds.

Jurors deliberated for five hours before reaching a verdict.