Charges in college slaying moved to Pulaski County

jkovac@macon.comMay 15, 2013 

Robert Kane Rolison

For days following the April 25 disappearance of a Middle Georgia State College freshman, the search for him centered on the school’s Cochran campus and the Bleckley County countryside.

But now it appears 19-year-old Jmaal Malik Keyes may well have been elsewhere all along, slain on the other side of the Ocmulgee River in neighboring Pulaski County.

Investigators have stopped short of saying the human remains found Friday at a fire site not far from Cabero Road just outside Hawkinsville belong to Keyes.

But a 17-year-old suspect in the case, originally charged in Bleckley, now faces a murder charge in Pulaski, a source familiar with the investigation told The Telegraph on Wednesday afternoon.

“It appears we have now established the (crime scene) to be in Pulaski,” the source said.

The suspect, Robert Kane Rolison, awaits a bond hearing. As of Wednesday, he was being held in the Pulaski County jail.

The human remains were discovered in the debris of a fire set near a cabin along Cabero Road.

Tests are planned to see if the remains recovered from the fire site bear his DNA.

Rolison was charged with murder and jailed last Thursday in Bleckley County in connection with Keyes’ slaying. He has ties to the area where the remains were found.

Rolison, whose parents are divorced, had lived with his mother and her parents near the site.

Still a student at Hawkinsville High School, he was jointly enrolled at Middle Georgia State, where he once lived in a dormitory.

Rolison had moved out of student housing before late April and was commuting to Cochran from Pulaski County at the time of Keyes' disappearance, according to a college spokesman.

Authorities have not divulged whether Rolison and Keyes knew one another. Nor have investigators said what led them to suspect Rolison.

Keyes’ family spokesman Ricky Mims on Wednesday evening said the missing student’s relatives “assume the worst.”

They have scheduled at Saturday memorial service in Austell.

“They’re doing this more for closure than anything,” Mims said.

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

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