Investigators comb fire site for clues in midstate student killing

jkovac@macon.comMay 13, 2013 

The hunt for clues in the slaying of a Middle Georgia State College student has led investigators to sift the charred remains of a Pulaski County fire site not far from where the suspect in the killing lived, authorities said Monday.

Potential evidence gathered from the burn site was sent to a GBI crime lab in Atlanta late last week. Results of tests on those materials are expected sometime this week.

Robert Kane Rolison, 17, was arrested Thursday and charged with killing Jmaal Malik Keyes, 19, of Austell.

Keyes was last seen alive on April 25 near Middle Georgia State’s Cochran campus, where he and Rolison were classmates.

Rolison made his first appearance before a magistrate judge on Sunday in Bleckley County, where he is being held without bond.

Though Rolison is in jail in Bleckley, authorities aren’t certain if Keyes was killed there or in neighboring Pulaski, where Rolison was also a student at Hawkinsville High School.

Of the investigation, one official said Monday, “It’s so much in a state of flux.”

GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang said agents are “still actively working the case ... trying to locate the body.”

Keyes’ disappearance and slaying have captured media attention across the region and in Cochran, where the college dates to the early 1900s and has for much of its history served largely as a commuter school.

Last Tuesday, the 5-foot-4, 210-pound Keyes’ picture was on the front page of the Cochran Journal in a missing-person story that noted he was thought to be wearing a yellow-and-white shirt and black jeans.

Authorities have declined to say what led them to suspect Rolison, who was attending college while still in high school.

To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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