Houston & Peach

Cop: Killer’s handwritten plan in Houston County murder-suicide ‘tragic, disturbing’

The house at 513 Heritage Drive in Warner Robins.
The house at 513 Heritage Drive in Warner Robins.

The killer’s handwritten plans were nothing short of meticulous and chilling.

Scripted revenge is how one investigator described the murder-suicide plot that played out midday Wednesday in a deadly trail that stretched from north Macon to Houston County.

Authorities say that shortly before noon that day a 41-year-old man named Christopher Michael Dukes set in motion a scheme to kill his former gay lover’s new boyfriend to get back at the ex.

Dukes apparently forced the new beau, Randall Kinard, into a Jeep at the Arkwright Road salon where Kinard worked and headed south on Interstate 75 toward Warner Robins.

That’s where Dukes and his ex-lover, Ashley Battle, 33, had lived in a house on Heritage Drive, off Dunbar Road.

On the way, Dukes shot Kinard once in the back with a .22-caliber pistol, investigators said, likely killing him before they reached the vacant house where Dukes set nearly a dozen separate fires. Then he committed suicide with a .380-caliber handgun.

Rescuers sent to a fire at the house at 513 Heritage Drive found Dukes and Kinard, 33, dead. The house, a 2,100-square-foot, bluish gray two-story that Dukes and Battle had shared since 2006 until they split up earlier this year, is less than two miles southwest of Middle Georgia Regional Airport.

Kinard, of Macon, was found dead on the first floor of the house. Dukes’ body was upstairs. He had been living in a Warner Robins apartment after his breakup with Battle. Friends said Dukes had been an apartment complex manager but lately had been unemployed.

Neighbor Patricia Stegall was in her yard about 12:15 p.m. Wednesday when she saw dark smoke and told her husband.

“That alerted me it was no barbecue grill,” Stegall said. “We knocked on the side and front doors, not knowing if anyone was inside.”

Stegall didn’t hear anything like a gunshot before seeing the smoke.

She said, “It was just unsettling ... gave me chills.”

‘WE’RE SHAKEN BY IT’

Kinard worked at Azul Salon and Spa, just east of Interstate 75 in a small shopping center next to Logan’s Roadhouse.

A friend said he did microdermabrasion treatments and that he had worked as a bartender at Club Synergy in downtown Macon.

Amber Kilgore, of Hawkinsville, met Kinard about a decade ago in an art class at what was then Middle Georgia College in Cochran.

“He was an artist. He was very good,” she said. “He was always able to look at something and, even if there was no beauty in it, he was able to see the essence of what was there. ... A special guy.”

Kilgore, 29, said Kinard once made a series of portraits of Icelandic singer Bjork, including paintings, collages and drawings.

“They were just breathtaking. ... He was obsessed with her,” Kilgore said. “He had all of her albums.”

She wasn’t sure when Kinard and Ashley Battle began their relationship, but in recent months she’d seen the pair’s pictures on social media.

“It’s the happiest I’ve ever seen him look, really,” Kilgore said of Kinard. “He was very content. You could tell he had gotten that taste of domesticity, and it was agreeing with him.”

Kinard was last seen leaving the salon about 11 a.m. Wednesday, salon owner Tommy Herring said.

They never heard from him again.

“We’re shaken by it. We’re absolutely speechless,” Herring said Thursday.

Kinard and Battle are pictured embracing each other in pictures on their Facebook pages.

Alex Webb, a former owner of Synergy, knew all three men.

“It’s really bad because a beautiful life has been taken,” Webb said.

Dukes and Battle were selling their house, Webb said.

Stegall, their former neighbor, said she didn’t realize the men had moved out until a “for sale” sign went up.

She first met them when she moved there about three years ago.

“They were very nice, quiet neighbors,” she said. “We’re just devastated by the bits and pieces... as everything unfolds.”

Sheriff’s investigators and state fire marshals were at the house Thursday morning.

Houston County sheriff’s Capt. Jon Holland said the house sustained fire damage to its stairwell, upstairs and walls.

‘FINAL REQUESTS’

Dukes was raised in Laurens County.

He went to Dublin High School.

He was a fan of Cher, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.

In the late 1990s, he created a website devoted to the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, which he deemed “the best show on television” in the 1980s.

The website, an early, bare-bones site with a fuchsia background and a spinning red heart at the top, appeared to have been a short-lived hobby.

“Due to my demanding job and life,” he wrote, “I have not been able to update this page as much as I would like to.”

From the looks of his Facebook page, he had gone on a recent trip out West, visiting Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

A friend of his who asked that his name not be used said Dukes was “a terrific person.”

His unraveling appears to have stemmed from his breakup with Battle, authorities said.

Holland, the Houston County sheriff’s captain, said that on Wednesday morning Dukes rented a white Toyota Yaris and drove to the salon where Kinard worked.

His plan was to kidnap Kinard at gunpoint, Holland said.

As Kinard left the salon to go to lunch, Dukes apparently was outside waiting, but instead of forcing him into the rental car, Dukes ordered him into an orange Jeep. The Jeep belonged to Battle, but Kinard, it seems, had driven it to work that day.

Dukes, at the wheel of the Jeep, apparently shot Kinard somewhere on the trip south and later dragged his body into the house in Warner Robins.

Kinard’s cellphone and driver’s license were found along I-75 in Macon. Investigators declined to say how they turned up.

Holland said the slaying was outlined in a plan that Dukes hand wrote, which included several papers as well as letters and instructions.

“Final requests,” Holland said of the missives found in his Dukes’ apartment.

“(He) outlined his thoughts and plans for what was to take place. It was something that was thought out. It was not a spur-of-the-moment thing.”

Holland said all indications were that Dukes was somehow driven by an urge “to get back at Battle.”

Things found at the house -- Holland didn’t say what -- revealed that Dukes may have tried to change his appearance there, perhaps to go on the run.

But with the house on fire, he aimed the pistol at his head and squeezed the trigger.

“It’s a tragic, tragic thing,” Holland said. “It’s a disturbing incident and a disturbing crime when someone takes these steps to exact that kind of revenge against someone.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303. To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397 or find him on Twitter@joekovacjr.

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