Originally created 02/26/03

Sixth suspect arrested in slaying

A sixth suspect sought in this week's slaying of a Hephzibah man was captured in Columbia County.

Oliver Drew Nelson, 37, of Stoneybrook Place, Martinez, was arrested late Tuesday at a residence off Columbia Road, said Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Jack Francisco. He was charged with murder and armed robbery in connection with the death of 27-year-old Willie Rhodes.

Mr. Nelson was brought to Augusta and interviewed by investigators before being booked into the Richmond County jail.

Lt. Francisco said Mr. Nelson is the final suspect tied to the killing. "All the players have been arrested to my knowledge," he said.

Five others are in jail on murder charges in the slaying.

Michael Smith was charged Monday with malice murder, armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Mr. Smith, 43, of the 1500 block of Gordon Highway, is suspected to be the triggerman, Lt. Francisco said.

Also charged with murder are Candice Leigh Peel, 39; Charles Thompson McMillian, 44; Kindra Denise Mathis, 20, and Valerie Ann Leecongdon, 29.

Police say the killing appears drug-related and the result of a fight at the victim's home on Bohler Avenue early Monday.

Lt. Francisco said some of the suspects had gone to the house to rob the victim. During the robbery, a fight broke out between Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Smith, and Mr. Rhodes was shot in the head, he said.

Police declined to discuss what role the other suspects played in the slaying.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.


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