Investigators in Spalding County Georgia believe they’ve solved the murder case of a Black man, killed 34 years ago, in what they allege was a “racially motivated” crime.
ABC News reports that the police arrested five people connected to the cover-up or murder of 23-year-old Timothy Coggins.
The victim’s body was found near a power line in Sunnyside, Georgia on Oct. 9, 1983, with evidence of multiple forms of trauma, the sheriff’s office said Friday in a news release.
It was a cold case for more than three decades until a witness came forward earlier this year, which prompted officials to reopen the case, WSB-TV reported.
ABC News said investigators informed Coggins’ family in July about the new development, and they re-interviewed witnesses who now say that they had been “living with this information since Coggins’ death but had been afraid to come forward or had not spoken of it until now,” Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix said. Officials also released information to the public, which generated new leads.
The prosecutor charged Frankie Gebhardt, 59, and Bill Moore Sr., 58, with murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and concealing the death of another.
Three suspects are charged with obstruction: Sandra Bunn, 58, Lamar Bunn, 32, and Gregory Huffman, 47. The prosecutor also charged Huffman, a detention officer with the sheriff’s department, with violating his oath of office. And Lamar Bunn, Sandra Bunn’s son, had worked for the Milner Police department, ABC News stated.
Coggins’ family thanked the police for not giving up on the case.
“We know that there’s been tireless nights and we know that you guys have put in so many hours making sure that these people were brought to justice…’” said Coggins’ niece, Heather Coggins, according to WSB-TV.
She added that it’s “unfortunate” that her uncle’s parents are not alive “to see this day.”
The sheriff’s office said the case would be prosecuted as a hate crime if it happened under current laws. According to the statement, the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are coming, WSB-TV reported.