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March 21, 2013 Issue

Wanted man shoots himself near Wrens
Stapleton man kills Gibson man
Storms cause damage across area

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Wanted man shoots himself near Wrens

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

A 57-year-old Wrens man charged with three felonies refused to respond to officers and then took his own life early Friday evening.

The man, identified as Dewey David Swink Jr. of US Highway 221, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, officials said.

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“We are not releasing the type of weapon at this point,” said Lt. Robert Chalker, the investigator with Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office who is investigating Swink’s death.

“We have narrowed the time of death to between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.,” he said, adding, “No one on the scene heard a shot fired; but, based on preliminary findings, he was alive at 5 p.m. and was found expired at 6 p.m.”

“We had several warrants out on him,” said Lt. Clark Hiebert, another JCSO investigator.

“The neighbors had said they had not seen him in or around the house in five or six days. They had become concerned that something had happened to him,” Hiebert said.

An investigator and several officers went to the house to see if they could see any signs of life, Hiebert said.

“When the officers arrived, two officers thought they had seen a window partly open; and, they noticed some dog food that had been thrown out in the yard.

“Neighbors had said they had seen one of the dogs that was usually kept in the house was outside and had been outside they thought for several days, along with a motorcycle that David (Swink) usually drives,” he said.

The investigator said neighbors said Swink never wanted to leave the motorcycle out in the weather.

Hiebert said Swink knew there were outstanding warrants against him.

“Because of these warrants there were some civil matters that some family members or ex-family members had been involved in,” Hiebert said. “He knew the warrants were against him; and, he knew he had to answer to those.”

The investigator said officers were at Swink’s home first to make sure he was OK.

“But then, he refused to come to the door,” he said. Hiebert said there was no evidence to show Swink had been going in and out of the house.

The investigator said they were unsure if Swink was home or if someone else was there.

“We decided to go in, after knocking on the window and the door,” Hiebert said, adding officers could see several types of ammunition on the table and the gun cabinet was open.

“All officers were aware he had all kinds of weapons,” he said. “Maybe something had happened to him, someone (else) was in the house. We called Richmond County SWAT team.”

Hiebert said there had been text communication with Swink until about 4:56 p.m. on Friday. That was the last time it was known that someone received a response from him or from somebody using the phone claiming to be him, Hiebert said.

“The last text was this or something like this: ‘I don’t want to hurt anyone but all is lost,’” Hiebert said.

“Normally, before the SWAT team is called it has to be we feel like there’s a possible threat to the officers’ safety. Then to deal with the officers’ safety, the sheriff is notified and then we decide how to proceed.”

The investigator said they do not believe Swink committed suicide at the time the entry was made into the house.

“The entry was made some time, maybe an hour or an hour and a half, since we received information from him or from someone using his phone,” he said.

The investigator said Richmond County officers brought their negotiator with them.

“The negotiator was with them when they finally made entry in the back door,” Hiebert said.

“This place was surrounded approximately seven hours. The dog food did not look old; there were not tracks going in and out of the house. When the officers observed the house, they saw the window partially open, then when they were closer, it was shut. There could have been somebody else was there and he was hurt,” Hiebert said.

“Initially, we did not know if something had happened to him. If it wasn’t him in the house, then someone had definitely been in the house,” he said.

The charges against Swink were one count of deposit account fraud and two counts of secreting property to defraud another.




Stapleton man kills Gibson man

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Officers formally charged Jeremy Harrison Rowland, 42, of Stapleton, last week in the shooting death of Billy Joe Julian Logan, 31, of Gibson. Investigators said the two men had been arguing for several months over Rowland’s ex-wife.

The homicide took place Tuesday, March 12, about 8 p.m. at Rowland’s home on Lemon Street in Stapleton.


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Rowland has been charged with one count of murder and one count of possessing a firearm during the commission of certain crimes. He is being held at the Jefferson County Jail awaiting a bond hearing before a superior court judge.

Logan was shot at least once and was pronounced dead at the scene, investigators said.

Lt. Robert Chalker, an investigator with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, is investigating the case and said this week Rowland called 911 after the shooting took place.

Chalker said at this point in the investigation he does not know how the arguments between the two men escalated to the point where one man shot and killed the other.

“We are still trying to figure that one out,” he said.

Chalker said Rowland was not injured and the gun used is believed to belong to the suspect.

“It will be weeks before an ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) trace is complete,” he said, referring to a check of the gun’s registration.

Chalker said at this time he does not believe anyone else was involved in the shooting and does not anticipate filing additional charges against Rowland.

Other details are not being released at this time, Chalker said.

Stapleton Police Chief Robert Hoffman said he was contacted by 911 and advised of the situation.

“Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was actually the first responding agency,” he said. “They were on the scene when I got there.”

The chief explained that although he was not on duty at the time of the shooting, he is on call at all times.

“The sheriff’s office aids us in investigations when we need it,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said when he arrived on the scene, the house had been secured.

“We secured the scene and it was like that until the GBI got there and they processed the scene,” the chief said.

Pat Morgan, the GBI’s special agent in charge in Thomson, responded to the scene.

“We’re assisting the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Stapleton Police Department, the DA’s office and the coroner’s office,” Morgan said this week.

“In this particular case, we actually assisted in the crime scene and the interviews of the suspect,” he added.

Morgan said there is enough probable cause in this case to have obtained a warrant for Rowland’s arrest.

“Through our interviews, through our interview with Mr. Rowland and the evidence at the scene,” he said. “We consulted with Hayward (Altman) at the DA’s office and he was of the opinion that Mr. Rowland would be charged with murder.”

District Attorney Altman said he couldn’t comment on whether there was a confession.

“I was also there from about 12:30 a.m. to about 3:30 a.m.,” the district attorney said. “They called me; and, I came up there to be able to assess from my standpoint. A decision was made at that time to charge him (Rowland) with murder.”

Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Fay McGahee transported Logan’s body to the GBI crime lab in Augusta last week for an autopsy.

“The investigation into this homicide is ongoing and more details may be released at a later time,” Chalker said.




Storms cause damage across area

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Severe winds tore trees from the ground and flung them across yards, roads and power lines throughout Georgia Monday night.

In Jefferson and Glascock counties crews were still working Tuesday afternoon to clean debris from yards and roads and to restore power.


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Jefferson Energy Cooperative reported outages in seven counties, including Jefferson, Glascock, Burke and McDuffie counties.

Steve Chalker, director of public relations with Jefferson Energy, said Tuesday that although he couldn’t say exactly when power will be completely restored, crews will be working until all customers have power.

“Line crews are currently working to restore power in the affected areas,” he said. “Additional crews will be called as needed. Customer service personnel are presently working to handle the influx of additional calls.”

He said about 340 customers had been affected by the outages.

“Crews continue to work on restoration efforts caused by last night’s storm. With lines torn down and broken poles, it has been a lengthy process. But Jefferson Energy will continue to work around the clock until all power has been restored. We thank our members for their patience,” he said.

“When the storm hit, it knocked out a lot of main lines, tore a lot of that,” Chalker said. “The main line is what feeds everybody, which is our main priority.”

Chalker said the storm damage was widespread. Crews are working first to repair damage to the main lines and then will be working on individual houses as the individual homes work off the main lines. lines and then will be working on individual houses.

“We obviously apologize for any inconvenience but we can’t control the weather. As soon as it happens, we come running. Our guys have been working since last night and will continue to do so. I ask for our customers’ patience while we get this done in a timely manner. But we’ve got to be safe and we’ve got to do it correctly,” he said.

“When it’s 70 degrees and sunny it’s time consuming at that. But when it’s 10 o’clock at night, 1 o’clock in the morning and it’s raining, that adds another facet to it,” Chalker said.

Of the seven counties they serve that had outages, Glascock and Jefferson were the worst two as far as number of customers impacted, he said.

Carol Boatright, a spokesman with Georgia Power, said Tuesday afternoon they had about 136 customers out of power in Jefferson County and 17 out in Glascock County.

“It seems like the outages in that area began showing up about 7 last night (Monday). All throughout that area. That seems to be when the weather moved through,” she said.

“The whole state was hit to some extent. They worked through the night. Once the storm sort of passed on through, we had crews working throughout the night and they got between 30,000 and 35,000 restored last night, that was throughout the state,” Boatright said.

She said crews had restored power to about 20 individual customers in the Louisville area by Tuesday afternoon.

“It looks like we’re down to the really slow part, replacing poles,” she said.

Jefferson County EMA Director Jim Anderson said the worst damage in Jefferson County was around Louisville.

“Over on McBride Street, we had a tree that fell on a trailer and a woman was trapped inside the trailer. The woman and her husband were inside when the tree fell. The husband managed to get her out. They both got out of the house. She was a little bruised but other than that they’re fine. It went completely through the roof, probably destroyed the mobile home,” he said.

Anderson said there were no deaths reported because of the storm. There were a couple of fires caused by damaged transformers, he said, but with the electricity off and the rain, the fires went out.

Anderson said it was a severe storm with straight-line winds.

“There were no indications of a tornado,” he said.

Mike Lyons, the EMA director in Glascock County, said the worst things they had to deal with were the roads.

“The main state route from Louisville to Gibson, US Highway 171 South, trees and power lines were down across the road. We couldn’t get the trees up because of the downed power lines and we couldn’t get the power lines up because of the trees,” he said.

Lyons explained the power lines had to be de-electrified before crews could move in to cut the trees and remove them from the roadways.

“So we couldn’t clear that roadway. They’re still working on it,” he said.

“We even had a transformer and power pole lying in the roadway in Edgehill. We had a mobile home, a single-wide structure that the roof was blown off on the north end of the county. That’s about 2 miles from where the tornado went through the other day,” he said.

Lyons said one individual was stranded in her vehicle in the middle of Edgehill.

“We were able to clear that portion of the roadway so she was able to get home. She was able to drive it (the vehicle) home,” Lyons said.

“We had no injuries and no deaths. We never called an ambulance to our county during this storm,” he said.

The storm came through Glascock County about 8:15 p.m. Monday, bringing with it high winds, hail and rain. Lyons said it was a strong thunderstorm.

The residences affected were mainly in the Edgehill and Mitchell areas, he said.

“The trees that were blown down were all blown in the same direction, west to east,” he said.

The EMA director said numerous agencies sent officers to assist efforts, including several state agencies.

“Georgia Power and Jefferson Energy employees were also in the county,” he said.

“There were approximately 100 Georgia Power customers in Glascock County without power on Monday night with 24 still without power on Tuesday morning,” Lyons said, adding about 450 Jefferson Energy customers in the county were without power Monday night with 220 customers still without power Tuesday.







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