Sign seeks leads on home invasion

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 6/19/03

W.A. Bridges Jr. / AJC
Assault victim Joe Wood put up a billboard in East Point to help find the killers of his wife. Now he awaits "that call from someone who knows something."

Travelers eastbound on Camp Creek Parkway in East Point will have a hard time missing the billboard announcing "$25,000 Reward."

The sign, 14 feet high by 48 feet wide near the Main Street (U.S. 29) overpass, was installed Friday and will remain up for six months.

It's the latest effort by assault victim Joe C. Wood and East Point police to crack a home invasion that left Wood's wife, Lourine, slain in the trunk of their luxury car.

The attack occurred 2 1/2 years ago at the couple's antique-filled brick house on Prince George Street.

To Wood's surprise, and gratitude, the billboard company charged only $350, to cover the cost of the vinyl lettering.

"The kindness these folks have shown sure does renew your faith in humanity," Wood said

Despite the year-old reward from the retired service station owner and the governor's office, authorities have no suspects or solid leads in their search for the men who pistol-whipped Wood, 71, unconscious and killed his 84-year-old wife with blows to the head. Police believe the attackers used heavy statuary.

Wood said he had considered for several months buying a billboard to publicize the killing and reward.

He succeeded with the help of Mark Selbee, senior account executive with Clear Channel Outdoor, the billboard advertising arm of the radio communications company. "I was ready to give him $1,200 for what the sign cost, and he insisted he wouldn't take a penny for it," Wood said.

"I'm a salesperson, and my job is to sell advertising, but it's not often you get an opportunity to help a person so deserving as Joe Wood," Selbee said.

Besides the reward figure, the billboard shows a photograph of Wood and his wife, and the number to call East Point police with tips: 404-761-2177.

Police Lt. Russell Popham said investigators believe the two intruders slipped into the house when Wood turned off the burglar alarm and went outside to feed his cats.

The killers overpowered him as he returned inside, tied and beat him. They took $400 cash and Wood's large, size 17 Masonic ring, but they ignored his checks and credit cards, items that could leave a paper trail.

A search of pawn shops as far away as Florida has been fruitless, Popham said.

Said Wood: "I must have gotten 15 calls from folks who know me and have seen the billboard. But all I really need is that call from someone who knows something. It just takes one, and I'm praying for it."

The East Point Police Department and Joe C. Wood would like to express their appreciation to Melody Robinson, Clear Channel Outdoor's Art Director who graciously donated her professional services to the billboard.

Dedication Celebration For Christopher R. Betts Memorial Precinct

The City of East Point Police Department invites you to the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the Christopher R. Betts Memorial Precinct, Tuesday, July 22, 2003 1 P.M. Camp Creek Market Place, 3645 Camp Creek Parkway Suite 110, East Point, GA 30344.

CSI unit uses latest gear, techniques to solve crimes

Thursday, July 17, 2003

By Bill Baldowski
Neighbor Senior Staff Writer

While investigating a burglary in the city earlier this year, members of the East Point Police Department Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) unit examined all surfaces of the home, looking for fingerprints.

Members of the unit, headed by Lt. Ed Bradley, at first thought they were looking only for a robbery suspect, but it turned out to be much more.

The fingerprints his team lifted at the scene not only identified a suspect to solve the burglary, but, in a nationwide search to match those prints from ones found at other crime scenes, they also helped identify a suspect in several rape cases which helped take him off the street.

Advances in law enforcement technology have made the investigation of crime scenes an art form “and our CSI technicians in East Point are true artists and some of the best around,” said East Point Police Chief Frank L. Brown.

From its humble beginning in 1954, CSI has evolved into a major law enforcement weapon which uses highly complex technical equipment and skilled personnel to support police crime-solving efforts.

According to Bradley, East Point’s unit, comprised of four identification technicians and a support staff, provides crime scene technical expertise in locating and developing fingerprints, searching and recovering trace evidence, crime scene photography and preliminary laboratory analysis of trace evidence, including bodily fluids.

How skilled are East Point CSI members? To solve one case, the team lifted fingerprints from a small piece of duct tape.

“After visiting a crime scene, we do a preliminary crime scene investigation and preliminary lab work, but much of the official lab work is done at the GBI crime lab,” Bradley said. “Our job involves securing the crime scene to help maintain the existing evidence, and documenting that evidence through photography and other measures.”

Members of the unit, which includes technicians Chris Dowdell, Colleen McMahon, Eric Bailey and Irving Smith, Jr., are often called upon to testify in court.

Bradley chuckled when asked if the dramatic television series, “CSI,” accurately depicts what his division does.

“A lot of us watch it and if we had some of the resources depicted in that show, there wouldn’t be anything we couldn’t do,” Bradley said.

The unit has just received one of the newest advances in crime scene investigation, a $22,000 Scenescope, which the department obtained through a federal grant.