December 19, 2005
EAST POINT --
Detectives arrested a 19-year-old man Sunday night for a drive-by
shooting that may leave a 15-year-old boy paralyzed.
Tahj Towns was shot
after a fight that followed a basketball game at Tri-Cities High School
in East Point Saturday.
"My son didn't
deserve this," Towns' mother, Naomi Towns, said. "I'm really glad they
made an arrest but I'm sad to know it was another high school student."
Jevoras Jackson on one count of aggravated battery and several
aggravated assault charges.
East Point Police
Detective Allyn Glover said the shooting may have been the result of an
on-going dispute between the two teenagers.
Ms. Towns said she
feared the shooting would leave her son paralyzed.
"His life is not over
with but he won't get the chance to do the things that other kids can
do," she said. "I do want justice to be done. Kids have to learn these
days that they can't pick up guns to solve problems."
correspondents Joyce Oscar and Jim Strickland contributed to this
Christmas Eve robbery sends girl, 7, to hospital
By PAUL KAPLAN
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 12/25/05
When she grows up and
has a family of her own, Pati Loera will have a Christmas tale that'll
make her kids' hair stand on end.
Long, long ago, on
Christmas Eve 2005, when Pati was just 7 years old, a bad man — a very bad
man — came to her home in East Point.
Pati's daddy, Saul
Loera, was taking out the garbage around 10 a.m., and when he left their
second-floor walkup, the man, who had a handgun, confronted him, forced
him back into the apartment and demanded money.
Pati's mom, Norma, who
was with Pati and her baby sister in a back bedroom, gave the man their
money, said Juan Lira, who has lived with the Loeras for three years.
A struggle ensued
between Saul and the man, according to East Point Police Capt. Russell
Popham. The man's gun went off twice, and one of the bullets hit Pati in
the lower leg.
Pati, who attends Emma
Hutchinson Elementary, was taken to Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital
and was still in the emergency room on Saturday night.
A nurse there said the
bullet went through Pati's calf and exited without hitting the bone. "She
was lucky," he said.
She probably doesn't
feel very lucky.
The family's apartment
was in shambles from the struggle, with food and toys scattered on the
living room floor. It looks like the opposite of a merry Christmas for the
The gunman got away.
Police described him as a black man, about 6 feet tall, wearing a black
jacket, a black sweater and black pants.
"The man took all the
money," Lira said. "Next week is the rent. I don't know what will happen."
Local manhunt hits national TV
2 detectives take search to next level
By SAEED AHMED
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/09/06
The two detectives have
exhausted every weapon in their investigative arsenal. And yet the
identity of the gap-toothed man — the suspect in two brutal rapes in their
county — continues to elude them.
They've tried the
old-fashioned approach: knocking on door after door, hoping someone would
This is an artist's sketch of the
suspect in a recent rape and in a '95 rape-homicide.
They've dangled money:
a $10,000 reward for information.
And last December, they
erected a giant 'Wanted' billboard near Greenbriar Mall that reminded
holiday shoppers that the person who raped two girls in their neighborhood
and killed one of them is still out there.
Now, detectives Vince
Velazquez and Russell Popham are taking their search for the gap-toothed
This weekend, two
network television shows — "America's Most Wanted" on Fox and "Cold Case
Files" on A&E — will feature segments on the case. Both programs will air
at 9 p.m. Saturday.
The A&E show will
devote its entire hour to the case. A television crew followed Velazquez
and Popham off and on for six months, cameras rolling as they chased one
tip after another to no avail.
The segment on
"America's Most Wanted" will take up only the first five minutes of the
show. But the detectives have a lot of hope pinned on those 300 seconds.
The two men are flying to Washington on Saturday to talk to tipsters who
might call the show's hot line with information after the segment airs.
Between 8 million and
12 million people watch "America's Most Wanted" every Saturday. And in its
19 years on the air, viewer tips have led to the capture of 879 fugitives.
Among them was
millionaire James Sullivan who is currently on trial in Fulton County. He
is accused of paying someone to kill his estranged wife.
"I was certain that
once we developed a composite sketch [of the rapist], it would just be a
matter of weeks before we ID'd this guy, match his DNA to the DNA from the
scene and it's over," Velazquez said. "It's been a year and a half."
Angeline Hartmann, the
correspondent and producer for the "America's Most Wanted" segment, said
exposing the case to a national audience is the next logical move.
"Maybe no one knows him
because the guy's not in the area anymore," Hartmann. "Maybe he lives
somewhere else and visits Atlanta once every nine years."
Same area, 9 years
The two rapes occurred
nine years apart, roughly 2.5 miles from each other.
The gap-toothed man's
first victim was 14-year-old Nacole Smith, an eighth-grader on her way to
Ralph Bunche Middle School in southwest Atlanta on June 7, 1995.
On the dirt path that
ran behind Nacole's apartment and one that she used as a shortcut to and
from school, the man accosted and raped her — then shot her in the head
and left her to die.
Nine years later, he
struck again, dragging a 13-year-old East Point girl into woods off Conley
Drive and threatening to kill her if she didn't cooperate.
He threw her into a
patch of poison ivy and sexually assaulted her.
After the attack on the
night of June 20, 2004, the man taunted the girl saying this wouldn't have
happened to her if she didn't go out after dark. The girl was returning
home from a cousin's house.
Later that year,
authorities conclusively matched DNA evidence from the East Point rape to
Nacole's case. And police in both jurisdictions realized they were looking
for the same man.
detective Velazquez and East Point police Capt. Popham began working
together to track down the man. But the case has proven tough to crack.
The East Point girl was
able to provide investigators enough details for a composite sketch. A
light-skinned black man between 25 and 30 with a prominent gap between his
two upper teeth. He is 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs about 190 pounds, and
at the time of the East Point rape, he was wearing gold, round
prescription glasses and had a short afro.
"We were very hopeful
once the composite came out," Popham said. "It's hard to fix a gap in the
tooth. And we knew he wouldn't be wearing designer glasses at night if he
didn't need them to see."
Authorities believe there
might be other victims who haven't come forward, either because they are
traumatized, embarrassed or think police won't respond.
To counter that, the
two detectives have canvassed the neighborhood dozens of times. The
$10,000 reward didn't flush him out either.
billboard went up in mid-December at Greenbriar Parkway and Headland
Drive. Initially, it generated a couple of tips, all of which led to dead
ends. Now, those calls too have all but dried up.
No one seems to know
who the gap-toothed man is. Both detectives are hoping Saturday night
Hartmann, the producer
for "America's Most Wanted," also has her own connection with the case.
Until she moved to Washington last year, Hartmann was a reporter for local
Fox affiliate WAGA and for nearly a decade, she ran a feature called
"Georgia's Most Wanted." The second-to-last feature she did before her
departure highlighted the case of the rapist.
"It really stuck with
me," she said. "Like the detectives, I want to see a resolution to this
die in stolen car crash
Two men are dead and
another seriously injured after crashing a stolen car into a tree Saturday
morning in East Point.
The driver, Adonis
Tillman, and a passenger were killed on impact, said East Point Police
spokeswoman Zee Bradford. Another passenger, Reginald Ross, was taken to
Grady Memorial Hospital, where his injuries are described as “non-life
The crash occurred at
about 7:30 a.m. Saturday when the silver Buick Century — which had been
reported stolen in College Park on Friday — took out a stop sign at the
intersection of Dunlap and Vesta Avenue, went airborne and wrapped around
a nearby tree, Bradford said. The exact cause of the crash has not yet
is miracle for Mother's Day
Abandoned newborn found by clean-up crew in East
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 05/14/06
Jabri Lester and
Santonio Roscoe were walking through East Point's Sykes Park on
Saturday morning performing the most menial of tasks: picking up
They were part of
a group cleaning up city parks as a community service to pay off
traffic fines. They expected the day to be boring.
As the group
started work, just before 10 a.m., Lester and Roscoe made their way
toward a gazebo. They found lots of average things people toss away:
scraps of paper, empty cans and bottles, newspapers.
They walked into
the gazebo and saw a black plastic bag on a table.
"I thought it was
just another piece of trash," Roscoe said.
The bag started
moving. The men heard a faint cry.
"Look in the bag.
Look in the bag. Open it up," Roscoe told Lester. Lester peered
nervously into the bag. He saw tiny feet, then he saw an umbilical
Swaddled in a
blanket with her head pushed down to the back of the bag was a
Lester was too
nervous to hold the child, he said later. He gave it to a woman in
the clean-up crew.
12-ounce child was taken to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at
Hughes Spalding, where she is doing well, despite suffering from
hypothermia, said East Point police spokeswoman Zee Bradford.
police estimate the child was born four to six hours before it was
dumped in the park. She said it was extraordinary that the girl was
found before she suffocated or died from exposure.
"She truly is a
miracle baby," Bradford said.
Roscoe, 25, was still amazed the child was safe.
"Ever since I
heard the baby was OK, I've just been praying about it, that's what
I've been doing, just praying about it. God came right in time," he
Lester, 26, said
it was just luck that their group was in the area. They were
supposed to start cleaning up another park, but switched to Sykes at
the last minute.
Lester said he
hoped to visit the abandoned baby soon. He said might even try to
adopt the child. He has two sons, he said, and "my wife, she really
wants a little girl."
East Point police
Capt. Russell Popham said police have no leads yet as to who
abandoned the newborn on the day before Mother's Day. Anyone with
information about who or why someone abandoned the newborn should
call East Point police at 404-761-2177.
No leads in baby’s discovery
East Point police
reported that a newborn infant found abandoned in a city park was doing
well Sunday at Grady Memorial Hospital, but that they were no closer to
finding the girl’s parents than they were when she was discovered Saturday
Police spokesman Sgt.
Bobby Gray said investigators found no clues at Sykes Park that would help
them identify who left the girl on a table under a gazebo, swaddled in a
blanket and wrapped in a black plastic bag.
Police believe the
8-pound 12-ounce baby was left there four to six hours after her birth.
A crew cleaning up the
park as community service to pay off traffic fines discovered the girl.
Gray said two sweeps of
the neighborhood also failed to turn up clues, adding that he expected
investigators to visit the neighborhood at least one more time.
“But she’s doing very
well, which is the most important thing,” Gray said.
A Grady Hospital
official declined to discuss the baby’s condition, citing privacy and law
Anyone with information
about the baby should call East Point police at 404-761-2177.