A man and a woman found dead Friday with multiple gunshot wounds in a bullet-ridden car might have been ambushed early Thursday.
Arika Jarrell, 23, and Ralph Heard, 32, were slumped over in the front seats of a car parked behind Jarrell’s house at 3365 Fairburn Ave. in Macon.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said the position of the bodies and the multiple wounds ruled out suspicion of a murder-suicide.
“We don’t know if someone followed them or were waiting for them,” Davis said.
Jarrell’s aunt, Vernice Banks, last talked to her niece late Wednesday night, but she didn’t indicate anything was wrong.
Jarrell invited her over, but Banks said she was too tired Thursday when she got off work.
At about 11 a.m. Friday, she went over to Jarrell’s neighborhood about a block off Napier Drive and discovered the deaths.
“Trust me, I can’t even get it together,” Banks said after giving detectives her statement.
She couldn’t say what kind of relationship Jarrell had with Heard.
“I don’t even know who he is,” Banks said.
Jarrell, who would have turned 24 next week, was in the driver’s seat. Heard had fallen backward on top of her in the teal colored Chevrolet Malibu with three bullet holes in the back passenger-side window and a shattered driver’s side window.
At least 11 evidence markers littered the backyard as crime scene technicians documented shell casings and other evidence near the car.
Autopsies will be performed on the bodies as soon as possible, Davis said.
“We’ve got to figure out how many gunshots there were and if there were more than one weapon,” he said.
Michelle Marshall, a retired Bibb County deputy who now lives in Las Vegas, was staying with her mother around the corner from Jarrell’s house when she heard gunshots at about 3 a.m. Thursday.
“First I heard like firecracker shots and then I heard bigger shots, like maybe a shotgun or something like that,” Marshall said.
She reported the gunfire and saw patrol cars swing through the neighborhood, but nothing seemed unusual. The carnage was hidden from the street.
“I was really devastated, you know, when I heard the news,” Marshall said. “I couldn’t believe it because this is a real quiet neighborhood and you have a lot of working class people here, with children, just everyday people. This normally doesn’t go on in this neighborhood.”
Both victims have short arrest records in Bibb County courts.
Heard pleaded guilty in 2011 to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in a 2008 case.
As a first offender, he was sentenced to five months probation.
Jarrell pleaded guilty to reckless driving last August in a December 2012 incident that originally included charges of DUI and misdemeanor marijuana possession.
Her childhood friend Paul Bronson describes Jarrell as a loving, caring person.
“Her focus was not drama driven,” Bronson said. “She wanted more out of life. She wasn’t one to settle.”
Although Bronson did not see her regularly, the last he heard she wanted to enroll in Central Georgia Technical College.
Bronson said his friend’s death renews the former political candidate’s fight to curb violence.
“I just think it’s going to take all the leaders stepping up and pastors stepping out from the pulpit,” Bronson said. “If we don’t do something about this soon, we’ll lose this generation.”
Marshall notices changes in her hometown when she visits from out West, where she does celebrity impersonations.
“This used to be a real nice neighborhood,” she said. “This shocked me and I heard it just as plain as day.”
Her mother’s neighbor reported hearing something and thinking it was a knock on the door, she said.
Davis is encouraging anyone who heard gunshots or saw any vehicles in the neighborhood to leave a message for the on-call investigator at 751-7500 or report anonymous tips to Macon Regional Crimestoppers at 877-68-CRIME.
“We’re following some leads right now to see where this takes us,” Davis said.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.