Convicted killer jailed in Houston on new murder charges

bpurser@macon.comMay 8, 2014 

James Milton Happoldt

WARNER ROBINS -- A convicted killer has been transferred from a state prison to Houston County where he is expected to stand trial for a 25-year-old double homicide.

James Milton Happoldt, 60, was booked into the Houston County jail Thursday morning, online records show.

He has been serving a life sentence for the murder of his ex-wife. He was indicted last month in connection with the Warner Robins slayings of James Runyon, 36, and Dan Easler, 37, in 1989.

Happoldt, who was living in Middle Georgia at the time of the killings, was indicted on two counts of malice murder and two counts of felony murder.

On March 26, 1989, the close friends were found dead in a wood shop behind a home in the 200 block of Sunset Drive. Runyon was shot in the head and arm. Easler was shot in the back and chest.

In August 1994, Happoldt was convicted of killing his ex-wife and wounding his son in a March 3, 1994, ambush attack. He shot 39-year-old Janice Buice three times as she and their 14-year-old son drove into the garage of her home in north Monroe County. Happoldt and Buice had argued over child support earlier in the day.

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the malice murder and aggravated assault convictions in 1996. Happoldt has been serving his life sentence in the Coffee County Correctional Facility in Nicholls.

Based on his length of incarceration, Happoldt may seek to qualify for indigent status for the court to appoint him an attorney. He may be arraigned in June.

District Attorney George Hartwig could not be reached for comment.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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