Originally created 09/08/01

Across the area



MCDUFFIE COUNTY
Sheriff brings home slayings suspect

THOMSON - McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall returned to Georgia on Friday with the Thomson teen accused of killing his parents and stabbing his sister.

Matt Dean, 18, was recovering in a rehabilitation center in Daytona Beach, Fla., after a car wreck Aug. 4 - the day after authorities said he killed his parents and left the state in the family's car.

Mr. Dean chose not to fight extradition back to Georgia to face trial.

Maj. Ronnie Williamson, of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department, said Mr. Dean went directly to a facility that authorities have decided is guarded but will allow the teen to continue recovering from the injuries he suffered in the wreck.

Maj. Williamson said the location of that facility will not be released for security reasons.

RICHMOND COUNTY
Police keep check on downtown traffic

Georgia State Patrol and Richmond County Sheriff's Office cars were out in full force Friday night, making sure revelers from the Border Bash on the riverwalk and Broad Street's First Friday events made it home safely.

Police stopped traffic beginning at about 10 p.m. at a drivers' license checkpoint on the westbound side of John C. Calhoun Expressway at the Crawford Avenue exit. They used dogs to search some of the cars they stopped and detained some drivers.

State troopers said information on how many drivers received citations or were arrested would be available today.

BURKE COUNTY
Fatal drowning ruled accidental

WAYNESBORO - The Burke County coroner on Friday ruled that the death of a woman found in the Savannah River on Tuesday was accidental.

Susan Fowler, 39, of the 3800 block of Mike Padgett Highway, was reported missing after a boat outing during Labor Day weekend.

Coroner Craig Kennedy said evidence from Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents, along with autopsy results, were consistent with an accidental drowning.

GBI agents had been working with the Burke County Sheriff's Office to determine whether foul play was involved.

The woman's body was found near Stony Bluff Landing in Screven County.

Mr. Kennedy said toxicology tests would be run on Ms. Fowler to see if alcohol played a role in her death.

AUGUSTA
Carjacking suspects' bond denied

A judge denied bond Friday for three teen-agers accused in a series of carjackings, two of whom appeared in court without attorneys.

Jason B. Thrower, 18, B.J. Lorenzo White, 17, and Jordash A. Tanksley, 17, appeared in Richmond County Superior Court for the first time Friday, and as a result of Chief Judge William M. Fleming Jr.'s decisions, they will await possible indictment and trial in jail.

The three young men and 16-year-old Melvin D. Boyd face charges of armed robbery, hijacking a motor vehicle, attempted hijacking and weapon violations. They are accused of the Aug. 28 robbery of a 2000 Mitsubishi Montero Sport from two sisters and the attempted carjacking of another woman's Mercedes-Benz.

The teen-agers also are suspects in two robberies in the Augusta area and another carjacking in South Carolina that occurred the same week. Mr. Thrower and Mr. Tanksley have a May 2 burglary charge pending and were free on bond in that case when arrested last week, said Assistant District Attorney Shauna Reeves.

Mr. White and Mr. Tanksley appeared in court without attorneys Friday. The Indigent Defense Office workers told Judge Fleming that both men indicated they wanted to hire their own attorneys.

AUGUSTA
Two get 10 years for sex crimes

Two young men were sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday for unrelated sex crimes against children.

In Richmond County Superior Court, Byron K. Haywood pleaded guilty to aggravated child molestation and child molestation in a Jan. 29, 2000, sexual assault of a 3-year-old. In addition to 10 years in prison, Chief Judge William M. Fleming Jr. sentenced Mr. Haywood to serve five years on probation when he is released from prison. Mr. Haywood, who was 16 when the assault occurred, is mentally impaired, according to evaluations.

In the other case, Judge Fleming sentenced Leon Small to 10 years in prison followed by five years of probation for statutory rape. Mr. Small, 19, had sexual relations with an 11-year-old girl April 14.

AUGUSTA
Robbery suspect turns up at store

Richmond County authorities arrested a Hephzibah man Friday and charged him with robbery by sudden snatch at a convenience store earlier in the day.

According to Sgt. Scott Peebles of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, a man entered the Depot Food Store on the 3000 block of Deans Bridge Road shortly before noon and grabbed money from the clerks, who were preparing the store's bank deposit.

Roland Rafue Simms, 41, was taken into custody when deputies apprehended him an hour later in connection with a shoplifting at Wal-Mart, 3209 Deans Bridge Road. Sgt. Peebles said Mr. Simms allegedly had used some of the stolen money to buy a shirt and was in the process of stealing a pair of shoes when he was caught.

Police recovered the rest of the money, Sgt. Peebles said.

GEORGIA
Mother charged in school threats

WINDER - A Winder woman has been charged with making threats against the middle school her son attends.

Earlier this week, Sherri Griffith, 32, went to Westside Middle School to talk with school officials about fights her 13-year-old son had been involved in. Authorities said she was upset her son had been suspended.

Witnesses told authorities that later Ms. Griffith went to a convenience store and made threats toward the school, saying that if bullying students didn't leave her son alone, she would help create another "Columbine situation."

Barrow County Sheriff's Department Capt. Barry Mallek said authorities were concerned enough to arrest Ms. Griffith after her acquaintances contacted them.

"It could be she was just spouting off or venting or angry," Capt. Mallek said Friday. But he said authorities could not take a chance on whether the statements Ms. Griffith is accused of making were real.

Officers arrested Ms. Griffith about 12:30 a.m. Thursday. She was released on $5,000 bond. She denied making the threats.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Man fatally shoots wife, himself

WALTERBORO - Investigators don't know what drove a 32-year-old man to shoot his wife in the head then turn the gun on himself.

Colleton County sheriff's deputies found the bodies of Claude Simmons and Rose Brown Simmons, 40, in their bed shortly before 1 a.m. Thursday.

Authorities say Rose Simmons' adult son was awakened by the couple's arguing, then he heard two gunshots. Deputies found the .38-caliber revolver used in the shooting.

The couple argued on occasion but had no history of domestic violence, Capt. Kent Tisdale said.