The man who police say killed Macon businessman Waldo Sheftall isn’t alive to answer questions, but police officers’ investigative files provide more details about the case.
Sheftall, 54, was found shot to death in his Washington Avenue home about 11:30 p.m. Oct. 10, 2007. A CrimeStoppers tip eventually led investigators to Leon Stanford, also known as Charles Thompson, of Macon. But Stanford, 38, was shot and killed by Warner Robins police during an armed robbery attempt there on Jan. 16, 2008.
The Telegraph requested access to the Macon Police Department’s files in the Sheftall slaying under the state’s Open Records Act after the case was closed Dec. 21. Detectives followed several leads and interviewed multiple “persons of interest” before closing the case.
The records and police interviews provide further glimpses about Stanford and his association with Sheftall.
Police have said they found an undated photo of Stanford, one that Sheftall presumably took, on a disposable film camera inside Sheftall’s home. The camera was on a dining room table. It showed Stanford in the nude posing on a staircase, near where Sheftall’s body was found.
While investigating the slaying, detectives soon discovered that the department also was building a case against Stanford for robbing the Big Lots store on Bloomfield Road, and that they had a photo of Stanford.
Two women interviewed in connection with the homicide investigation confirmed that Stanford was the nude man in the photo. Police have not released the women’s names, citing concerns for their safety.
One of the women told officers that Stanford denied being homosexual and had threatened to kill Sheftall for spreading rumors about him.
She also said Stanford had told her that he needed money to get to Atlanta to find his family.
“He continued saying that he was going to kill and rob (Sheftall),” she is reported to have told police.
Both women said Stanford would get violent when people questioned him about his sexuality.
“All you had to do is ask a question about him being gay (and) he would literally go psycho,” one of the women told detectives.
Transitional center connection
Police also interviewed one man who had served stints at the Macon Transitional Center and who said he had known Sheftall since the mid-1990s. Transitional centers help selected inmates reintegrate into society after their release from prison. One function of the centers is to provide “work release” for the inmates, maintaining a paying job while living at the center.
The man told police he had performed occasional odd jobs for Sheftall and that Sheftall also had paid him for sexual favors. The man also told police that he saw Sheftall pick up other inmates at the center and that he would pay those men for sex as well.
Stanford spent time at the transitional center after serving several years in prison for aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and theft by taking.
Albert Rucker Jr., Stanford’s partner in the Warner Robins robbery, said he met Stanford at the center.
He told police that Stanford engaged in homosexual activity.
“His lifestyle came out,” Rucker told them.
In their reports, officers wrote that Sheftall was found lying on the floor, clothed, with his hands at his side. A tie was draped around his hands. An officer wrote that it appeared as if there had been some attempt to tie Sheftall’s hands behind his back.
His pockets were turned inside out, and the contents of his wallet were strewn about the floor. There was no money in the wallet.
Several pieces of paper and other items were scattered around as if the room had been ransacked.
As part of the robbery investigation, officers had searched Stanford’s home and found a box of .38-caliber bullets. Sheftall was killed with a handgun of the same caliber.
Detective Shermaine Jones said police never found the gun used to kill Sheftall, though.
Harold Perdue, Sheftall’s uncle, and Sheftall’s brother, Lowell Sheftall, both declined to comment about the police investigation and the information included in detectives’ files.
In October 2008, police sought the public’s help when someone left an anonymous note about Sheftall’s death on an unmarked police car parked at City Hall. Police eventually discredited the note as a viable lead.
The one-page, handwritten note identified another possible suspect in the slaying, but it mistakenly referred to Sheftall as “Sheffield.” Stanford was not mentioned in the note.
The note’s author alleged that Sheftall and the suspect were in a relationship. The author contended that Sheftall had threatened to tell the suspect’s family that the man was an abusive homosexual and had tried to break off the relationship.
In December 2008, detectives received information about a witness who knew the person who had written the note, and this is what the witness said: The author had told him that the suspect named in the note was supposed to help him get a job. When the alleged suspect didn’t follow through, he wrote the note.
“He said that somebody made him mad, and he did it for revenge,” the witness told the police.
Officers interviewed the suspect named in the note and found that he had met Sheftall just once, and he didn’t own a .38-caliber handgun.
In building a timeline of Sheftall’s last hours, police have said he ate at a Church’s restaurant on Pio Nono Avenue and helped someone buy a part for a car.
Jimmy Hartley, a former Macon-Bibb County fire chief, said he saw Sheftall about lunchtime the day he was killed.
Police records show that Sheftall ate at Church’s and was seen at the Publix on Tom Hill Sr. Boulevard on Oct. 9, 2007, the night before he was killed.
After retrieving numbers from Sheftall’s cell phone and his home phone list, police found that his last call was to Chrys Rogers at 12:05 p.m. the day he was killed.
Rogers told officers that Sheftall called because they’d seen each other at the Publix and didn’t have time to talk. During the phone call, Sheftall told her he had bought a part for a man’s car in exchange for the man using food stamps to buy Sheftall groceries at Publix.
The man later told officers that Sheftall picked him up at the Macon Rescue Mission while he was trying to sell his food stamps.
Rogers said Sheftall ended the phone call because he said he had a meeting at 1 p.m.
Henry O’Neil, Sheftall’s maintenance contractor, told police he thought he saw Sheftall driving on Washington Avenue about 2 p.m. He said Sheftall was a good employer to him, but he was known to pick up “seedy characters” from the streets and put them to work.
Sheftall “often mistreated these workers, overworked them and seldom paid them for the work they did,” O’Neil said in the police report.
Two people, Freddie Mae Gordon and Matthew Wilson, told officers that they called Sheftall between 3:15 p.m. and 4:45 p.m., but he didn’t answer. One of them also stopped by Sheftall’s house, but left when Sheftall didn’t answer at the door.
Police also interviewed two tenants who lived in the same building with Sheftall.
Lewis King, who lived below Sheftall, told detectives he had arrived home about 5 p.m. after being out of town for several days. King showered and changed clothes before leaving again, then returned about 9:45 p.m.
King said he didn’t realize anything was wrong until his fellow tenant, Charles Higgs, asked if King had seen Sheftall because Higgs had been locked out.
Higgs, Sheftall’s upstairs tenant, told officers he had returned home about 11 p.m. after being out of town and was unable to get inside. A dead-bolt lock that Sheftall typically left unlocked was bolted shut.
Sheftall’s vehicles were parked outside, he said, so he assumed Sheftall was home. He tried to call Sheftall on an intercom system. When Sheftall didn’t respond, he called police.
After two years of investigation, Jones said officers still don’t know who Sheftall had planned to meet. Police didn’t find a calendar or day planner, and no one that they interviewed could say for sure. “We don’t know,” he said.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.