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April 3, 2008 Issue

Mystery powder arrives by mail
Louisville native releases album
Leonard Leroy Dillard charged with third murder

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Mystery powder arrives by mail

By Parish Howard

A Stapleton-area woman got a fright last week after she discovered a white powder on her hands after opening a letter without a return address. The woman spoke to The News and Farmer/The Jefferson Reporter on the condition of anonymity.


“It was a regular, business-sized envelope,” she said. “I know you shouldn’t open mail that comes without a return address, but it looked like a kid’s handwriting on the outside and I thought maybe it was a child asking for donations for something.”

As she was opening the letter Friday afternoon around 5 p.m., she noticed the postmark was from Santa Anna, Calif.

Inside was a note that said “(her name), you ought to try this.” The note was simply signed “J.” The envelope contained a photocopy of a newspaper advertisement for a face cream cosmetic.

“You had to fold it out and so you had to use both hands to open it,” she said.

Puzzled, she folded it up and put it back in the envelope.

“I looked down at my hands and they were white,” she said. “They were covered in this white powder.”

She says she did not think much of it, but went to the sink and washed her hands.

“But they were still white,” she said.

So she washed them again.

“But it was still in all the creases in my hands,” she said.

So she called a friend who advised she take the letter to law enforcement.

While driving to Wrens she began to notice she was having a reaction.

“My lips were becoming numb and swollen feeling, the way they would feel if I had been to the dentist,” she said. “My eyes started tingling and I felt like I had something in my throat.”

She had been riding her bicycle outside that afternoon and thought the reaction in her throat could have been from breathing in pollen.

At one point she said she wiped her mouth on her dark blue shirt and saw that her face left a white residue on the shirt.

“That kind of freaked me out,” she said.

The EMTs who responded to her while at the Wrens Police Station determined that the powder was not an acid and that her vital signs were normal. They recommended she go to a hospital for further care.

The EMTs who responded to her while at the Wrens Police Station determined that the powder was not an acid and that her vital signs were normal. They recommended she go to a hospital for further care.

She said that the medical staff at Jefferson Hospital called the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta who recommended a decontamination protocol.

Clothes were double bagged and she was told she might not get them back.

Next they scrubbed her hands, face and hair with cold water and she was given a hot shower and told to scrub again.

She said that it was determined that the powder was not Anthrax and after a five-hour observation period in which her vital signs remained normal, she was released from the hospital.

A representative from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said that he picked up the envelope, which had been placed in a sealed evidence bag in Wrens, and took it to the Richmond County Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Team.

“They took the bag into their lab but were unable to find any powder or residue on or in the envelope,” he said. “We have the envelope sealed up now. But we don’t know what was in it. They told me there was nothing there to test.”

The spokesman said that after the national Anthrax scare following 9/11 in 2001 there were some envelopes that showed up in the county that contained talcum powder, causing some fear before being deemed harmless.

“Since then most of your larger post offices have begun scanning mail for biological weapons and poisons,” the spokesman said. “This letter was postmarked from California, so it is likely it would have passed through some of those larger post offices.”

The spokesman advises anyone who receives any sort of loose powder in the mail to be as cautious as possible.

“Don’t handle it anymore than you have to,” he said. “Call us immediately and we’ll come and get it and try to determine what it is.”

The letter’s recipient said that while she did have some minor symptoms throughout the weekend, that she felt completely normal again by Tuesday morning.

According to an article on the Centers For Disease Control website, there have been an estimated 40,000 white powder hoaxes since 2004, most of which are addressed to organizations or government offices.

Louisville native releases album

By James Watson

Chester “Pete” Love is returning to his hometown of Louisville to celebrate the release of his first CD with a performance at The Bistro. Love looks forward to unearthing his childhood memories and to meet with old friends from his formative years as a musician and teenager in Jefferson County.

A look back

Love first came to Louisville from Savannah following his father’s retirement from the Air Force in 1962. Through his years as a child in Louisville, Love often became involved in musical activities, performing at the Kiwanis Club or the Forestry Queen pageant. Perhaps his most memorable experience was his duet with school friend Wade Watkins at the Louisville PAL Theater.

“Wade worked there and I must have convinced him to ask Mrs. Noggle (the manager) to let us play up on that stage,” he said.

Love and Watkins performed a cover song on stage at the theater before the first feature film in return for popcorn and cokes. During the intermission, Pete and Wade returned to the stage to perform another song.


“My mother came into the theater to watch us play the intermission and as we took the stage she heard another lady’s voice groan ‘Oh no…not again.’ My mom didn’t tell us about that lady until some years later and we had a good laugh about it,” said Love.

Love played in many local bands such as the Ogeechee Valley Band, Breezin’ and Plum Nelly. He even played with a band called The Wild Things, which underwent numerous name changes until the group finally settled on the name Avram Gold. The band then went on to Atlanta in pursuit of fame, though Love did not join them because he was still in school.

Love graduated from Louisville Academy in 1970. In 1982, he moved to Savannah, where he played with other bands, such as Spectrum, Space Potatoes, Danny Phillips Band, Band in the Park and Mary Davis & Co. Love also played as a sideman or opening act for many groups and still does today.

The present Love

Since 2001, Love has worked at the Kia motor dealership in Savannah as the parts manager. He lives on Wilmington Island with his wife and two children, both of whom are budding musicians and soccer players. He often plays with groups there whenever he can.

“I keep all my gear loaded and ready to go in my SUV, just in case I get called at the last minute to do a show,” said Love. “That’s where the name Chester and the Elements comes from. It’s me and whoever I can round up from the musicians I know who would take the stage with me.”

Local Influences

With the upcoming release of his first CD, Love has decided to have the release celebration in Louisville. He said that the oldest song on the CD, Talkin’ Market House Blues, has a handful of personal Louisville references.

Love will perform at the Bistro on Friday and Saturday, April 4 and 5, beginning at 7 p.m. and lasting until roughly 9 p.m. Admission is free.

Leonard Leroy Dillard charged with third murder

By Parish Howard
Editor / Publisher

An assistant district attorney revealed in Jefferson County Superior Court Friday that a man who is expected to stand trial in May for the strangling death and rape of a Wadley woman last year has recently also been charged with murder in the 2003 disappearance of Verdell Moore of Swainsboro.

The murder of Moore, whose remains were discovered in December 2007 in Emanuel County, was brought up by Senior Assistant District Attorney Hayward Altman in a hearing Friday. Altman requested permission to include evidence from this murder investigation, as well as a third murder investigation from 1993, and at least three accusations of violence associated with attempted rapes, in the upcoming trial against Dillard in the 2007 death of Wadley resident Sandra Flournoy Knight.


Judge Walter C. McMillan ruled Friday that the evidence can be used in court in the coming trial as similar transactions.

Judge McMillan said that while all evidence presented in the hearing was “strictly hearsay” as it was presented by investigators, if the prosecution is able to present all of the witnesses who claim to have been raped or attacked or the two currently incarcerated prisoners who spent time with Dillard in the Jefferson County jail who have come forward with evidence against Dillard, the evidence should then be admissible at trial.

Dillard’s attorney, David Walker, objected to the evidence from all of the other offenses not directly involved with Knight’s death, “especially to the death of Verdell Moore.”

Walker argued that there was not enough evidence to definitively determine Moore’s cause of death that she could have as easily died of a “snake bite” as at Dillard’s hands.

The prosecution intends to present the testimony of at least two fellow inmates of Dillards as part of their evidence against him in the Moore case.

Altman argued that all of the cases of violence against women, two of which ended in death, are relevant to the current allegations against Dillard in Jefferson County.

Altman said that the similarities in these investigations point to Dillard as a “serial-type person.”

In January 1995 Dillard stood trial in Emanuel County for the 1993 murder by strangulation of Brenda Jones. He was found not guilty by a jury of his peers.

Judges Bobby Reeves and Kathy Palmer have recused themselves from the current case as they were partners who represented Dillard in the Jones trial.

Retired Judge McMillan, who heard the case against Dillard in 1995, will be hearing the Knight case, when the trial is expected to go to court next month.

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