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April 11, 2013 Issue

Home lost to fire
Murder suspects coming to trial
Ceremony held for deploying dad

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Home lost to fire

By Parish Howard

A family of seven was displaced from their Matthews home Saturday when a fire gutted the structure.

No one was reportedly home when the blaze broke out in the rear right corner near the water heater. A motorist stopped and called 911 when he saw the dark smoke.


A motorist stopped and called 911 when he saw the dark smoke.

Alarms were raised in Wrens and Matthews just before 5 p.m. and firemen were on hand within six minutes.

“It was fully involved when we got there,” said Tommy Brown, deputy chief of the Matthew Fire District. “We had a flash over coming out the front right window.”

Flames quickly spread through the house, located at 4859 Hwy. 88 E. in Matthews.

Responding fire departments included Matthews, Wrens, Stapleton and Hillcrest.

Brown said that while the initial blaze was under control by 7:45 p.m., he had to send a truck back to the location later that night when a second fire ignited.

Georgia Power was called in to disengage power to lines that had fallen across a propane tank and were actively sparking.

The last Matthews fire engine left the scene at 12:52 a.m. Sunday morning, Brown said.

Reports indicate the roughly 1,800 square foot home was owned by a Wanda Kelley of Matthews.

The Jefferson County Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) Captain John Huff Parish said that help was provided to the seven people living in the home at the time of the fire.

“We initially gave them some food, clothing and temporary lodging in an area hotel,” he said. “If anyone is interested in helping this family they should contact the Augusta Red Cross Chapter at 706-724-8481.”

The home’s occupants included a 39-year-old female, a 33-year-old male, an 18-year-old female, 16-year-old female, a 11-year-old male, a 10-year-old male and an 8-year-old male.

The house, the deputy fire chief said, was a total loss.

Murder suspects coming to trial

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Trials in three murder cases are scheduled to begin in the next two months, Jefferson County District Attorney Hayward Altman said last week.

The murders occurred about a month a part, one in May 2011 and the other two in June of that same year.


The first case stems from the death of Antony Holmes, 43, of Dublin whose body was found behind a house on Martin Luther King Extension in Wadley.

Law enforcement officers arrested Clifton Leandre Outler of Wadley. Outler was 22 at the time of his arrest in May 2011.

A second man, identified as Jeremy Jermaine Reid of Dublin, was arrested in October 2012 and charged in connection with the death of Holmes. At the time of his arrest, Reid was 23.

Authorities have said robbery was the motive.

Outler and Reid will be tried together. Their trial is scheduled to begin sometime in May.

Investigators have said Holmes had blunt force trauma and at least one gunshot wound.

In the second case, officers arrested Willie James Kitchens, 32, of Wadley in connection to a double homicide that also occurred in Wadley.

The two victims, Melanie Troupe, 22, and Corey Kemp, 33, both of Wadley were killed sometime near midnight June 23, 2011.

The bodies of the victims were found inside a home that had been set on fire. At the time, the GBI said the cause of death for Troupe and Kemp was sharp, forced wounds.

No motive in this case was announced.

The fire was reported. When responding officers gained entry into the home, they discovered one of the bodies.

Kitchens’ trial is scheduled to begin in June.

Altman said the trial dates are tentative at this time.

Ceremony held for deploying dad

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

“Plan a day, just me and you,” nine-year-old Madison Tompkins said, goading her father, “Got it? Got it?”

Squeezing his hand tightly knowing that only in a few days, her father would be leaving their home in Glascock County again, Madison looked up at him, eyes beaming. Staff Sgt. David Tompkins left Monday to go to Mississippi where he will be deployed with the United States National Guard to Afghanistan.


His family, wife, Samantha, and daughters, Madison and Taylor, have not seen the clean shaven man they are clung to in the Glascock County Consolidated School media center since Christmas. Samantha knew he was coming home to visit. It was a surprise to his daughters.

Samantha, along with the help of David’s coworkers, Scott and Wendy Hobbs, who work with him at Washington State Prison, where David is a craftsman, were able to orchestrate a meeting if only for a few days.

David was about to miss out on two of the most important events in his daughter Taylor’s life, senior prom and her graduation.

“It said on Facebook, sorry I am going to miss your graduation and prom,” Wendy Hobbs said recounting what brought her to that moment Friday morning.

The following day was Glascock County’s prom, and luckily, David was able to be in attendance to watch his daughter pass by during the grand march.

“So I talked to Mr. Lovering,” Wendy said of the school’s principal.

“He is good folks,” Scott Hobbs said of David. “I hate for him to miss her graduation. We wanted to do something to make him feel like he was a part of it, like he was here.”

For 11 years, since the devastation of Sept. 11, 2001, David has been protecting his family, as well as the families of all Americans.

That tragic event catapulted him into joining the National Guard, where he performs air base security.

“I haven’t really been home much in about two years,” David said. “But I am proud to be a part of it.”

An eight hour drive from I-20, his wife, Samantha, along with another soldier’s wife, Lindsey Boyd, brought them to Camp Shelby in Mississippi, where both their soldier husbands were waiting.

David was supposed to ride back on the bus along with other soldiers from the Thomson National Guard unit, but being a father and husband, and knowing what family means to him, he gave up his seat on the bus to another soldier.

“He was a 5 percenter,” David said, explaining that the soldier would stay back in case someone was hurt, but was given orders to report for this trip to Afghanistan. “He got pulled up and didn’t have a seat on the bus. I gave him my seat.”

In the beginning, David leaving was hard for his family.

“I know it is sad, but I have kind of gotten used to it,” his wife said. “But it has gotten harder as far as the kids go. When he was in Iraq, it was hit and miss if we got to talk to him. When he was deployed to Afghanistan, Madison was between three to five. I couldn’t watch the news anymore because it would talk about death and she would worry that it was him.”

Entering the school, David was in his camouflage uniform, covered with various patches, stating his name and rank. Principal Danny Lovering greeted him at the school’s doors, along with Glascock County Sheriff Dean Couch and Chief Deputy Jeremy Kelley.

“Thank you for your service sir,” was a humbling phrase that filled the air of the school that morning.

Waiting just feet away were his daughters, who were waiting along with all of Taylor’s senior classmates in the media center, not knowing the real reason for their gathering.

Assistant Principal David Cooper and Lovering took him into the school’s front office and talked to him, while final preparations were made.

Opening the door to the media center, Taylor sprang from her chair, with her little sister only steps behind her to embrace the father that is giving up his time from his family to protect others and serve his country. Tears streaming down Taylor’s face, she held onto his neck tightly, while little Madison found a place to hold right above his knee.

David was given a chance to see his daughters, and to see what Taylor would look like the day she received her diploma, pictures were taken and given to David to take with him on his trip to Afghanistan, of Taylor dressed in her cap and gown.

The little girl that was only seven at the time of his enlistment is now grown, and David thanked all those present that have done so much for his family and helping to guide his daughters.

“I just want to thank all my friends and family for all of their support,” David said as Madison squeezed him a little tighter.

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