BYRON -- Tracy Dumas, of Macon, knew something was wrong when it neared the first of the month and she still had not heard from her mother or brother.
Dumas, 42, who cleans houses for work and volunteers at her church’s food pantry, said she took care of the personal needs of her 63-year-old mother, Carolyn Fountain, and 48-year-old brother, David Giddens.
She did their shopping, picking up toilet paper, cigarettes, whatever was needed.
Fountain, a loving mother who dedicated herself to her children, struggled with the crippling effects of rheumatoid arthritis, Dumas said.
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Giddens, who loved to laugh and cut up with family and friends, battled fibromyalgia, a medical condition characterized by chronic pain. He had not had any landscaping jobs lately, Dumas said.
Dumas discovered their badly decomposed bodies Aug. 1 inside the mobile home they shared at 60 Grove Estates in the northern tip of Peach County.
Preliminary findings of the autopsy conducted at the GBI crime lab in Macon yielded few clues to how they died, with toxicology results pending, Peach County Coroner Kerry Rooks said. The mobile home was locked and everything was in place, with no foul play suspected, Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said.
At first Dumas wasn’t too concerned when her calls to her mother and brother went unanswered. Both were bad at keeping contact. The phone would be off the hook or go missing, buried deep within a sofa cushion. There was always some excuse, Dumas said.
But what was unusual was when Dumas did not hear from her mom about what she needed her daughter to pick up from the store.
“I could feel that something wasn’t right,” Dumas said.
So, Dumas drove to down to Peach County. She had her 3-year-old son, Dakota, in tow. She stopped and picked up a few things for her mother and brother as she normally would. She kept calling repeatedly as she drew closer.
She drove up to the mobile home, knocked on the door to alert them of her arrival and went back to her vehicle to start unloading the goods. She’d done that a million times over.
“I hesitated because I smelled something,” Dumas said. “At first, I thought it was the trash can.”
But it was the worst smell she’d ever experienced. A terrible, dark sinking feeling came over her. She grabbed her son and walked around the trailer. She saw “flies all over the window.”
The air conditioning was not running, which she said was odd. The odor was overwhelming.
Dumas said she ran to the next-door neighbor’s home. Had he seen her mother or brother? No, he said, not for about two weeks.
“No, oh no,” Dumas said she started to sob. “Please come with me.”
At first, the neighbor didn’t smell anything, Dumas said, But as they got closer, he turned to her and said, “Go ahead and call the police right now.”
Crying, sobbing, Dumas remembers choking out the words: “I think ... is there anybody who can come? ... Something’s ... happened to them.”
An arriving sheriff’s deputy opened the door.
Dumas was told the body of her brother was lying in the kitchen, while the body of her mother was near the hallway.
“Both are decomposed so badly there was no need for an open casket or anything,” Dumas said.
Authorities found no evidence of a break-in, no weapon, no signs of a struggle, Deese said. All seemed to be in place. Plates were even set out in the dining area.
“If there had been any kind of a tussle, it would have knocked the plates off,” he said.
The dinner plates being set out struck Dumas as odd. Her mother would never have set plates out unless she was about to serve a meal, she said.
Preliminary autopsy findings showed no trauma to the bodies, no bullet holes or anything at all of that nature, Rooks said. But he said he expects the pending toxicology results may yield some answers.
“It’s just one of those mysteries,” Deese said. “We hope we can find the cause.”
Not knowing what happened to her mother and brother is the worst part, Dumas said. A GBI agent has promised to sit down with her once the joint investigation is over and take her through the whole thing. She wants to know every detail.
She needs it for closure.
The bodies were likely undetected for about 10 days, Rooks said. He based that on Fountain having a doctor’s appointment July 21 but missing the follow-up appointment July 23.
Both Fountain and Giddens were on prescription medications for their medical conditions, but neither were depressed nor would inflict harm on themselves, Dumas said.
“I know in my heart that they wouldn’t do that to me or to themselves,” she said.
Dumas said she did not know about the follow-up appointment, but she last talked to her mother either July 21 or 22 after her mom had her regular checkup with her physician.
It was a typical mother-daughter conversation, Dumas said.
Dumas asked how her doctor’s appointment went. Her mother asked her about her day. Dakota wanted to talk with his grandmother.
Dakota always ended his telephone calls by telling his grandmother he loved her and blowing her a kiss through the phone. Dumas next said goodbye.
“I ended the conversation like we always do,” Dumas said. “‘I love you, Mom,’ and she’d say it back to me.”
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.