Crime

Woman accused of pushing paraplegic man out of her car, letting him die in woods

Ruby Kate Coursey
Ruby Kate Coursey

Expedited autopsy results from the GBI led to the arrest of a Thomaston woman on a murder charge in the death of a former boyfriend.

Ruby Kate “Katie” Coursey, 27, was charged Monday with felony murder and felony neglect of a disabled adult in the hypothermia death of 33-year-old paraplegic Troymaine Johnson, according to a release from Upson County Sheriff Dan Kilgore.

“He was last seen on (March) 14th, and those were some of the coldest nights in recent days,” Kilgore said.

On March 17, searchers discovered Johnson’s body at a hunting camp off Triune Mill Road in Upson County.

During the investigation, Coursey said she “put Johnson out of her car and left him in the woods,” the release stated.

His body was lying next to a hunting camper about 150 yards from the main gate, which had been crashed through.

Red paint on the gate appeared to match the Saturn VUE Coursey was driving, Kilgore said.

The sheriff always thought Johnson was alive when he was dumped at the camp, but Kilgore needed an autopsy report to confirm that suspicion before he could charge Coursey with felony murder.

She could only be held for 21 days on a misdemeanor probation violation pending probable murder charges, the sheriff said.

“We contacted the state crime lab and director of the GBI Vernon Keenan was very gracious to expedite the tests,” Kilgore said. “We’re very grateful for that.”

The cause of death was ruled a homicide as a result of hypothermia.

The investigation showed Coursey picked up Johnson on March 14 to go for a ride or a possible trip to the store.

She left Johnson’s wheelchair behind at the Fort Valley home he shares with his grandmother.

Two days later, Coursey’s brother and sister-in-law told Thomaston police that she had left Johnson at the hunting camp off Triune Mill Road.

Morning low temperatures were below freezing and plunged into the mid-20s on March 16.

Coursey is being held without bond in the Upson County Jail, Kilgore said.

The sheriff said there was no word on what motivated her to leave Johnson, who was unable to go for help.

“He had no mobility.”

Liz Fabian: 478-744-4303, @liz_lines

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