Autopsies confirm murder-suicide finding in Macon deaths

GBI autopsy findings Monday confirmed that the weekend shooting deaths of a child and a teenager in Macon were the result of a murder-suicide, the coroner said.

Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said that the autopsy concluded that the cause of death of Jalon Griffin, 7, was a gunshot wound to the head and that the manner of death was homicide. Autopsy findings indicated that the cause of death of Vonn Gibbons, 19, was a gunshot wound to the chest and the manner of death was suicide, Jones said.

“No, we don’t know,” Jones said when asked if authorities have been able to determine why Gibbons shot the boy and then turned the handgun on himself in the hallway of Gibbons’ home at 2280 Arrowwood Drive early Saturday morning. “I don’t think we’ll ever find out because everyone involved is dead.”

Cheryl Cole, Gibbons’ mother, was at home but asleep with the bedroom door closed and the television on when the shooting took place, a family member said.

“My son loved Jalon, and they were real close and I don’t know what to think,” Cole said Monday from the porch of her home. “I wish I had both of them back.”

Cole broke down in tears and said she just couldn’t talk about it before retreating back inside the home. Her sister, Cynthia Hughes, said the family cannot believe that Gibbons would hurt himself, much less take another life in the process.

“We don’t know what happened out here,” Hughes said. “We’re just as blindsided like anyone else.”

‘Something bad had happened’

Gibbons was a Westside High School graduate who had attended Savannah State University and planned to attend Macon State College, Hughes said.

“He was making a lot of plans with his life,” she said.

Jalon, a second-grader at Williams Elementary School, was often at the Arrowwood Drive home. His mother, Velita Nelson, and Cole, are close friends, Hughes said.

Earlier Friday night, Gibbons made pizza for Jalon, who was sleeping over, Hughes said. Gibbons and Jalon had a lot of fun together, often playing video games, Hughes said.

Gibbons’ sister was the one who found the bodies, Hughes said.

The sister made the discovery and ran to the side of the house where her mother’s bedroom is located and shouted for her to wake up -- that “something bad had happened,” Hughes said.

A Macon police news release placed the time of the shooting at 12:22 a.m. Saturday.

“Gibbons shot Jalon, then took his own life,” the release stated.

Neighbor Darnell Cummings said she saw a cream-colored car that appeared to be leaving the Gibbons’ home as she was returning home between 12:20 and 12:30 a.m. Saturday from visiting her daughter. She watched the car, she said, because a few weeks earlier she called 911 after witnessing two young men beating Gibbons in his front yard. The two fled in a white-colored car, she said. Hughes said the family was aware of the beating but never knew who did it or why.

Cummings, who was taking things out of the car into her home early Saturday, said she also heard what sounded like someone banging on a door. Later, she looked outside from her home to see an ambulance and fire trucks.

@BR Body Subhed:‘Both are gone’

Nelson, who was making funeral arrangements Monday, said the families may never know what happened because Jalon and Gibbons “both are gone.”

As hard as this is for her, Nelson said it may be even harder for her friend Cole because of the circumstances. Nelson said she feels no animosity toward Cole and remains close with her.

“It’s one of the saddest cases I’ve worked in my career,” said Jones, who has served 20 years with the coroner’s office.

Macon police were at the home Monday afternoon, and Hughes said officers told the family they were looking for additional evidence.

Jami Gaudet, public information officer for Macon police, said the incident remains under investigation. The handgun used was recovered, Jones said.

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