An electric griddle, mixer and hotplate sit in the corner of the Major Case Room of the Bibb County sheriff’s investigations building.
“We pull a lot of all-nighters,” sheriff’s Capt. Shermaine Jones explained recently in the enclave where detectives hole up to pool resources, aiming to get killers off the streets.
A near record number of Macon homicides last year is changing the way Bibb County sheriff’s investigators work.
A new homicide team is comprised of three veteran detectives who focus on active and cold murder cases.
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Not since 1992 when 43 people were killed have more victims died violent deaths within the county limits.
When the clock rang in the new year, investigators were working 40 homicides. Two weeks into 2019, the number grew to 41.
Results from a GBI autopsy released Jan. 14 showed 61-year-old Jimmy Stanley was strangled to death in his Williams Street home where his body was found Sept. 27.
Stanley’s homicide makes 11 unsolved killings from last year.
Arrests have been made in 30 deaths, which amounts to a 73 percent clearance rate. The national average is about 62 percent, according to the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Reporting statistics released last fall.
Names of many of the 2018 victims are written on white boards circling the large room where the special homicide investigative team meets with other officers.
Typically, the search for a killer begins with those closest to the victim.
“You always have to rule out people with direct contact, boyfriend, girlfriend, secret relationships,” said Jones, who manages the Persons Unit handling violent cases and crimes against children.
Unlike other years, domestic violence might be a factor in only a handful of the 2018 cases — Alexus Brenna Watkins, 20, who deputies say was strangled by her 16-year-old brother, Kevon, who was still choking her when an officer arrived; Al’juwon Moss, 23, was shot to death at a duplex he reportedly shared with Terral Gray, 35, who was taken into custody in what investigators called a domestic disturbance; 1-year-old De’Yuntis Car’Mon Pounds, whose mother Carla Rochelle Pounds is accused of inflicting fatal injures; and Ellen Runette Sandifer, 57, who was beaten to death inside her home by an unknown assailant.
Less than two weeks later, Sandifer’s 18-year-old grandson Leonard Spivey Jr. was shot to death inside the Chick-fil-A on Bloomfield Road in an unrelated case.
Last year, 14 people 21 years old and younger were slain and a dozen of them died of gunshot wounds.
Kongquee, who turned 19 in jail, allegedly was shot by Spivey nearly a year before their fatal encounter.
The night before Halloween, 16-year-old Kendrick Davis was fatally wounded in a drive-by shooting on Warpath Road in east Macon. Five teens were arrested and indicted in the killing which might have stemmed from a fight at school or possibly a dispute over a female, investigators say.
The year’s last homicide two days before Christmas is likely a revenge killing related to Davis’ death, Jones said. Tyneshia Desha Hammonds, 20, was shot to death live on Facebook while driving a dark-colored car believed to have been involved in Davis’ death.
“A lot of them look at it from a revenge standpoint, ‘I’m going to avenge my homeboy’s death,’” he said.
Jones sees a more disturbing trend of increasing deadly violence.
“They are so quick to act nowadays and not talk things out,” said the 40-year-old Jones, thinking back to his youth. “Schoolyard fights didn’t escalate to knives or guns as much as they do today. ...You see life is over (within) a click of a pistol.”
Armed robbery a common motive
About a quarter of last year’s victims died during or after armed robberies or attempted stickups.
Investigators say Montaego Deshun Maxwell, 18, was killed in a shootout trying to rob a 15-year-old who pulled a gun and started shooting on Walnut Street near Forest Avenue on Feb. 3, 2018.
Retired school teacher Ann Kathleen Leonard, 75, was hit by a stray bullet and died on her kitchen floor on Vinings Circle at about the same time Marlon Jermaine “Bo Bo” Williams was shot dead on Mason Street early in the morning of April 14. Both were hit by shots fired in the aftermath of an armed robbery at Jaffary’s Food Court on Anthony Road near Pio Nono Avenue. Devantae Lajerian Lundy, 24, is accused of killing them.
Kaylen Devon Johnson, 24, also is charged with murder in the deaths of Leonard and Williams. Investigators say Johnson has a third victim, Danny Thomas Causey, 33. Johnson is accused of killing Causey and wounding his friend, Terry Warren, 29, in the parking lot of Raffield Tire Master at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on Dec. 16.
Pedro Garcia, 18, was shot to death in an apparent robbery on Villa Crest Avenue in September. In less than 24 hours, 17-year-olds JA’Reyse Detrez Pollard and Tajah Deshun Coleman were arrested and charged with murder.
On Sept. 10, Freddie Slocumb Jr. was found dead in his Pansy Avenue home in what authorities believe was a possible robbery. His killer has not been caught.
Shondricka Adams, 18, was in the wrong place at the wrong time when she was hit by multiple bullets on Leaf Street in east Macon. Investigators say it was a case of mistaken identity in what is believed to be a revenge shooting stemming from an earlier robbery.
“She was just an innocent bystander,” Bibb sheriff’s homicide investigator Sgt. Joseph Vamper said.
Robbery also was behind fatal shootings at three Macon stores.
Bibb County sheriff’s deputies returned fire and killed Shamir Deangelo Terry, 39, after he robbed the Circle K on Riverside Drive on June 2. The woman who allegedly gave him the gun, India JaQuary Whitson, 36, is accused of murder in the case.
Two teens, 17-year-old Jeremy Jerome Kendrick and 16-year-old Arie Calloway, are accused of gunning down convenience store clerks Alpeshkuman “A.P.” Prajapati, 35, and Waqar Ali, 21, a week apart in August.
Kendrick and Calloway are Leonard Spivey’s alleged accomplices in the 2017 shooting of “JuJu” Kongquee.
Hours before Leonard Spivey was shot to death in front of workers in the fast food kitchen, he posted a picture on Facebook of himself video chatting with Kendrick, who was clad in an orange jumpsuit inside the Bibb County Jail where he’s being held on murder and armed robbery charges.
Many Macon homicides involving young people have similar connections.
“They all know each other and they know each other through social media,” Jones said. “The lines get kind of blurred and skewed.”
Jones agrees: “These lines cross so many times it’s sometimes a task trying to pull the string.”
Victims can put themselves in harm’s way
Gunshot wounds killed 31 of the 41 victims. Although the body of John Flemming III has not been found, an arrest was made after blood and evidence found in his abandoned car indicates he was likely shot to death.
“I wish there was a way to control it but you have so many guns bought on the street or stolen,” Vamper said.
Blunt force trauma caused the deaths of six people including: Donna Whipple, who was found partially under a house on Columbus Road on June 20; Jeffery McKuhen, 51, was found beaten to death in a bloody vacant house on Houston Avenue on Jan. 10; Jeffery Burke, who was beaten on Father’s Day and died Sept. 9; and Precell Carlton Brooks Jr., 47, was killed in a crash on Bloomfield Drive on Feb. 10, 2018.
Brooks’ death led to the arrest of Kristie Nicoshen Buckner, 23, who is charged with murder and aggravated assault. Buckner is accused of opening fire from her car while chasing her boyfriend, Edwin Jamaal Williams, 28, after he allegedly choked her. Williams’ vehicle slammed into Brooks’ car and caused the fatal crash.
There will be no arrest in the death of Kaley Dee Gay, 25, who was killed by a Bibb County sheriff’s deputy when she fired a shot while being placed under arrest.
Many of 2018’s victims put themselves in harm’s way, Jones said.
“Birds of a feather flock together,” he likes to say. “If you hang with the criminal element, you’re more likely to be a victim of violent crime.”
One notable exception was the Jan. 8 killing of 49-year-old church custodian Ida Mae Ford, Macon’s first murder victim of 2018. Ford was gunned down at random near her home by a man on a crime spree around Mercer University. Quentin Sanders, 41, confessed to killing Ford after his arrest in a double murder in Macon County later that month.
Investigators referred to Sanders as “deranged” and a “monster” who also opened fire in Mercer Village and committed robberies in Tattnall Square Park and a carjacking on Coleman Hill.
“We’ll never understand what makes them pop. What caused them to kill one person and not another,” Jones said.
Had it not been for Sanders’ confession, investigators might not have solved Ford’s murder outside of any ballistics evidence.
Surveillance cameras, cell phone tracking and other technological aids are helping crack cases but nothing beats eye witness accounts and tips to investigators.
Often no one will talk to police. Parents can clam up when their children are involved.
“Instead of chastising the wrongdoing, they go into protection mode. ‘Not my baby,’ ” Jones said.
Investigator Robert Shockley wants people to know they don’t have to give their names to share information that could lead to the arrest of a killer.
“We don’t call it snitching,” Shockley said. “We call it protecting the community because sooner or later it will roll up in your neighborhood.”
Information from The Telegraph archives was used in this report.