MEDIA RELEASES

 

Police seek driver in fatal hit-and-run on I-285
 


By MIKE MORRIS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/05/04


Police are looking for a hit-and-run driver who caused a wreck this morning on I-285 that killed a teenager.

East Point police Major Patricia Boyce said the wreck occurred about 7:45 a.m. on I-285 northbound, just before Camp Creek Parkway.

The 15-year-old girl, identified by the Fulton County Medical Examiner's office as Jasmine Brown, of Jonesboro, was riding with her mother when their car was struck from behind by a beige, mid-sized Toyota, sending their car across three lanes and into the median wall.

The teen, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital, Boyce said. The mother's name, and the extent of her injuries, were not immediately released.

The Toyota did not stop, Boyce said. She asked that anyone who witnessed the collision or with other information on the Toyota call investigators at 404-765-3420.


DNA connects recent rape to slaying in 1995



By BILL MONTGOMERY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/12/04

An unidentified assailant who recently raped a 13-year-old girl in East Point and let her go after threatening her is linked by DNA to the 1995 rape and killing of an Atlanta girl, according to East Point police.

The man, believed to be in his late 20s, was connected to the crimes by a DNA database at the GBI. The assailant is the same man who raped and then fatally shot Nicole Smith, 14, on a dirt path off Campbellton Road in Atlanta, East Point police Capt. Russell Popham said Tuesday.

Enlarge

This is a police composite sketch of the rapist.

"We just don't know who he is," said Popham, who released a GBI artist's drawing of the rapist from a description by the most recent victim. She was raped at night around a month ago while returning to her home from a cousin's house.

Popham said the assailant dragged her into woods in the 1600 block of Conley Drive and told her, "I'm going to kill you if you don't cooperate.' " The assailant released the girl after the rape.

According to the GBI sketch, the rapist was clad in black shorts and a white T-shirt and was about 5 foot 11. The assailant also wore distinctive round eyeglasses and had a gap between his two upper front teeth, Popham said.

Nicole Smith, an eighth-grader, was on her way to middle school in southwest Atlanta on June 7, 1995, using a dirt path behind her apartment as a short cut, when she was sexually assaulted and fatally shot in the head.

Atlanta police have interviewed possible suspects but have never made an arrest.


Reward offered in rape of 13-year-old



By BILL MONTGOMERY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/14/04

A $10,000 reward is being offered to flush out the suspect in the recent rape of a 13-year-old East Point girl who is linked by DNA evidence to the 1995 rape and killing of an Atlanta girl.

The East Point rape occurred roughly two and a half miles from where Nicole Smith, 14, was shot to death on Campbellton Road in southwest Atlanta nine years ago.

Enlarge

This is a police composite sketch of the rapist.

At a news conference today, Atlanta police Chief Richard Pennington, East Point police Chief Frank Brown and Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard urged parents in the area to "be vigilant" and know the whereabouts of their pre-teen and teenage daughters.

"Our theory is that this person is actively stalking young girls and given the proper stimulus and opportunity, he will take another life," said Howard.

Howard said $5,000 of the reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction comes from Gov. Sonny Perdue, $3,000 from the city of Atlanta and $2,000 by his office.

Howard said police investigators and criminal profilers believe the suspect may be a released prisoner or jail inmate.

"We are checking the DNA of prisoners with a Fulton County address who have been released since the first of the year," Howard said. He added that he plans to seek similar information on released inmates from other metro counties.

The suspect, believed to be in his late 20s, was connected to the crimes recently by a DNA database at the GBI, East Point police revealed Tuesday.

"We just don't know who he is," said Capt. Russell Popham, who released a GBI artist's drawing of the rapist from a description by the East Point girl who was raped the night of June 20 while returning to her home from a cousin's house.

Popham said the assailant dragged her into woods in the 1600 block of Conley Drive and told her, "I'm going to kill you if you don't cooperate.' " The assailant released the girl after the rape.

"The DNA and the sketch of this person is the best evidence we have," Howard said today. The 13-year-old victim "was real sure" in describing the rapist to a GBI sketch artist, especially her description of the suspect's round, gold prescription eyeglasses and prominent gap between his two upper front teeth.

Nicole, an eighth-grader, was on her way to Ralph Bunche Middle School in southwest Atlanta on June 7, 1995, using a dirt path behind her apartment as a shortcut, when she was raped and then fatally shot in the head.

Atlanta police interviewed possible suspects but have never made an arrest.


Police go door to door in hunt for rapist-killer



By BILL MONTGOMERY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/20/04


Since late August, police have used an old and proven technique, door-to-door interviews, attempting to find a rapist.

The unknown predator has been conclusively linked by modern genetic fingerprinting technology to the rape of two young teenage girls one of whom he killed in East Point and southwest Atlanta.

Enlarge

This is an artist's sketch of the suspect in a recent rape and in a '95 rape-homicide. 

Last week, with the killer still apparently at large, authorities included another time-honored weapon from their arsenal money. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced a $10,000 reward to flush out the suspect who this summer raped a 13-year-old East Point girl and who also is linked by DNA evidence to the 1995 rape and killing of an Atlanta girl.

DNA, the genetic material contained in human cells and found in bodily fluids such as semen, saliva and blood as well as hair and skin, was recovered in both crimes.

"The DNA proves they were committed by the same person," East Point police Capt. Russell Popham said. "The problem is, we don't know who he is."

The East Point rape occurred roughly 2 1/2 miles from where Nicole Smith, 14, was fatally shot on Campbellton Road in southwest Atlanta nine years ago.

At a news conference with Atlanta police Chief Richard Pennington and East Point police Chief Frank Brown, the Fulton district attorney urged parents in the area to "be vigilant" and know the whereabouts of their pre-teen and teenage daughters.

"Our theory is that this person is actively stalking young girls and, given the proper stimulus and opportunity, he will take another life," Howard warned.

Howard said $5,000 of the reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction comes from Gov. Sonny Perdue, $3,000 from the city of Atlanta and $2,000 from the DA's office. Howard said police investigators and criminal profilers believe the suspect may be a released prisoner or jail inmate. He is believed to be in his late 20s.

"We are checking the DNA of prisoners with a Fulton County address who have been released since the first of the year," Howard said. He added that he plans to seek similar information on released inmates from other metro Atlanta counties. The East Point girl was raped the night of June 20 while returning to her apartment from a cousin's house. The assault occurred on Conley Drive in East Point.

The assailant threatened to kill the girl if she didn't "cooperate" but released her after the rape.

"The DNA and the sketch of this person is the best evidence we have," Howard said. He added that the East Point victim "was real sure" in her description of her attacker, especially the suspect's round, gold prescription eyeglasses and the prominent gap between his two upper front teeth, he said.

"There's been at least 100 tips since the sketch was released, from people saying the guy looked like somebody they know or have seen," said Popham, of the East Point Police Department. "We'll check out them all."

Nicole Smith, an eighth-grader, was on her way to Ralph Bunche Middle School in southwest Atlanta on June 7, 1995, using a dirt path behind her apartment as a shortcut, when she was raped and then fatally shot in the head.

Howard said the rapist may have spared the lives of other victims, who have not reported the assaults. "They may be traumatized, or feel embarrassed, or think that the criminal justice system won't respond," the DA said.

Anyone with information on the suspect should call the Multi-Agency Cold Case Squad tip line at 1-888-653-8477 or 404-302-8407. Callers may remain anonymous.

"The tip line is ringing constantly," said Howard spokeswoman Lyn Vaughn. "We are delighted and gratified by the response, and people need to continue to call."


Reward doubled in brutal '01 killing
Victim's son-in-law won't let case die

Reward increased to $100,000 in December 2005



By BILL MONTGOMERY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 11/23/04


 

In Walt Joiner's opinion, the intruders who bludgeoned his mother-in-law to death three years ago this week in a brutal East Point home invasion took her husband's life, too.

"They killed Joe the same day, but it took him two years to die," said Joiner, who recently doubled a reward fund to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of the killers of Lourine Wood.

Joe C. Wood, retired owner of a service station in Atlanta's Ben Hill area, died of a heart attack at age 73 in December, shortly after the second anniversary of the crime.

Around 7 a.m. on Nov. 29, 2001, Wood, following his morning routine, turned off the burglar alarm of his two-story, antiques-filled brick house on Prince George Street in the upscale Williamsburg neighborhood and stepped outside to feed his cats.

Police believe that the two intruders, wearing gloves and ski masks, slipped in through the unlocked back door. One of them surprised Wood in the foyer with a burst of pepper spray. Though Wood fought back, he was overpowered, pistol-whipped about the head and hog-tied with his belt and an extension cord.

The assailants demanded jewelry and the location of a safe. The home didn't have a safe, and Wood refused to tell them where the couple kept their jewelry.

Cries from bedroom

In an interview nine months before his death, Wood said that, as he lay helpless and slipping in and out of consciousness, he could hear his wife in their bedroom calling for help.

Police found the body of Lourine Wood, 84, in the trunk of the couple's Mercedes in the garage, killed by repeated blows to the head. Police said they believed the blows were delivered using small, heavy antique statues the Woods collected.

"If she had gotten sick and died, we could have accepted that," said Joiner, owner of Joiner's Corner Full Service Station on Connally Street and husband of the Woods' daughter, Mary, their only child. "But when somebody comes in your home and murders your wife? She never did anything bad to anybody. I promised Joe before he died I won't let it go."

East Point police Capt. Russell Popham, the lead investigator in the case, came to know Joe Wood well during the investigation.

"[He] was the caregiver and the provider; that was his core, how he lived," Popham said. "When he was most needed, he couldn't help because he was tied up. They took his will to live."

The killers fled, apparently on foot because they couldn't open the automatic garage door, police theorize. They made off with $400 in cash and Wood's size 17 Masonic ring. They ignored the couple's credit cards.

Billboard didn't help

Even though the case has been covered extensively in the press and on a 14-by-48-foot billboard paid for by Wood, there have been few if any leads. The billboard, announcing "$25,000 Reward," stood at East Point's Main Street overpass from May 2003 until July.

Popham said he believes the scarcity of leads over three years supports his theory that the intruders were transient laborers who were in the neighborhood long enough to plan the crime around Joe Wood's morning routine and soon departed. "But we have nothing but hunches," he said.

Anyone with information is urged to call the East Point police 24-hour tip line at 404-761-2177 or Report Criminal Activity (Internet)

Previous Media Releases:

Sign seeks leads on home invasion 6/19/03

Reward offered in killing 1/28/02

Women found dead after home invasion 11/30/01

 


Georgia Fugitive Appears on America's Most Wanted

12/04/04, FOX5 Atlanta

One of Georgia's most wanted fugitives appeared Saturday night on the Fox national television show, America's Most Wanted. 28-year-old Tobias Lee is accused of killing a man in East Point, several weeks ago. Police say that murder was just the beginning of a violent crime spree that took him throughout the southeast. Lee is now accused of two murders, a rape, a carjacking, and a series of robberies. A cash reward is being offered in this case. If you know anything that might help investigators, you are asked to call the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force at 770-508-2500, the East Point police 24-hour tip line at 404-761-2177 or Report Criminal Activity (Internet)


Police in 2 states seeking crime spree suspect



By BILL MONTGOMERY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 12/07/04

 

Authorities in two states are tracking the path of a 28-year old fugitive wanted in a crime spree they believe began with an October killing in East Point.

Tobias Chano Lee is wanted for the fatal shooting of acquaintance Howard Rockmore on Oct. 22 outside an East Point apartment, said East Point police Capt. Russell Popham.

Lee is also suspected in three crimes last month: the rape of a woman in the middle Georgia town of Buena Vista and an armed robbery and another killing in Columbia, S.C.

Police in Columbus are looking for a man matching Lee's description who broke into a house Monday, sexually assaulted two women, tied them up and stole a red Dodge Neon, according to police Lt. Mark Starling.

Initially, Lee was spotted in the Columbus area before dawn Sunday by a Muscogee County sheriff's deputy, who chased his car, said sheriff's Capt. Joe McCrea.

Driving a white Mercury Capri, Lee turned quickly in front of Deputy Bruce Williams' car, then crashed into the driver's side of the deputy's car, police said.

Lee and a woman in the car jumped out; the woman was caught, but Lee escaped. McCrea said officers recovered two weapons, and that fingerprints in the car matched Lee's. Police said Lee has relatives in Columbus.

Lee's flight began after the Rockmore slaying in East Point.

East Point Capt. Popham said investigators believe Lee, who grew up in East Point, was quarreling with Rockmore "over drug turf and a woman Lee had been dating."

They confronted each other about 9:30 p.m. outside Rockmore's apartment in East Point's Washington Carver Homes on Washington Road. "Lee pulled out a gun and shot Rockmore four times he was dead at the scene," Popham said.

Authorities believe Lee fled in a stolen car to Buena Vista, where he had friends. He is wanted there for allegedly raping a woman he knew and stabbing her in the arm, police said.

Next, according to Popham, Lee went to Columbia, where he held up two soldiers in a bank parking lot on Nov. 23. The next day, according to police, Lee fatally shot a 74-year-old mobile home park owner and stole his Mazda pickup.


Suspect In Killings Captured in La.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.

MONROE, La. -- A man wanted in Georgia and South Carolina in connection with two killings, a rape and an armed robbery was captured here Tuesday afternoon after crashing his stolen pickup truck during a police chase, a Louisiana State Police spokeswoman said.

Tobias Chano "Toby" Lee, 28, had just exited Interstate 20 around 12:45 p.m. after a trooper signaled him to pull over for following another vehicle too closely. But, as the trooper approached the truck, Lee sped away, leading to a chase at speeds as high as 90 mph, said Trooper Julie Lewis.

The chase ended within minutes when Lee crashed into another vehicle and was taken into custody, Lewis told KSLA television.

Georgia authorities said Lee is a suspect in an Oct. 22 death in East Point, a rape in Buena Vista on Nov. 22, an armed robbery in Columbia, S.C., on Nov. 23 and a killing in Columbia on Nov. 24.

Authorities said a man matching Lee's description broke into a Columbus home around 1:15 p.m. Monday, sexually assaulted two women, then tied them up and stole a car. The women escaped and called police.

The suspect then was seen driving the car, which had rear-end damage, they said.

Muscogee County Sheriff's Capt. Joe McCrea said Deputy Bruce Williams was in a marked unit while officers were chasing Lee around 5 a.m. Sunday. Lee, who was driving a white car, turned quickly in front of Williams' car then crashed into the deputy's driver's side. Lee and a woman in the car jumped out. The woman was caught but Lee escaped.

Fingerprints from the car matched Lee's, McCrea said.

Authorities said the crime spree began Oct. 22, when Howard Rockmore was shot to death at a housing project in East Point, just outside Atlanta.

In South Carolina, James Hammond, 74, was fatally shot in the chest after he tried to stop two men from stealing his truck on Nov. 24 on U.S. Highway 321 in northern Richland County.

Columbus police said they found the truck last week. The other suspect in that shooting, Willie Demetrius Johnson, 17, surrendered Sunday to Richland County deputies.

Lee's past arrests were all drug-related and officials are not sure what triggered the latest violent attacks.