Reward Offered in East Point Killing

Monday, January 28, 2002

A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to arrests in a brutal East Point home invasion last fall during which an 84-year-old woman was killed and her husband severely injured. East Point police believe robbery was the motive for the killers who bludgeoned Lourine Wood to death and put her body in the trunk of the couple's Mercedes-Benz in the driveway of their home on Prince George Street on Nov. 29. The reward money is being offered by family members, police said, in the hope of gaining information that will identify suspects in the crime. "We have some leads to follow, but no positive suspect yet," said Lt. R.C. Popham, lead investigator in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call Popham at 404-765-3459.  Click here for an update in the incident.

DNA database links suspect to slaying, rapes

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

DNA matching helped indict a man in the murder of a pregnant woman and another rape in his apartment complex, Fulton County authorities say.

Tommy C. Wright, 23, of East Point was indicted Tuesday on charges of murder, rape and aggravated assault in the October slaying of Erica Thompson, 27. His DNA matched bodily fluids found at the scene, said authorities.

In addition, Wright was charged in the 1999 rape of another woman also living in the Club Candlewood apartments in East Point. The connection was made when Wright's DNA, taken under a court order when he was arrested for murder, was entered into the state DNA database. There, it was compared to the DNA found at unsolved crime scenes.

"He was not even considered a suspect in the 1999 incident," said Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard. "The case had gone cold."

The announcement marked the second time in two weeks that authorities credited the state DNA database with solving a crime. Last week, DNA from a cigarette butt helped tie three men to the Coweta County murders of a dairy farmer and his son 12 years ago.

The state database contains DNA collected at the scenes of unsolved crimes and samples from felons entering the state prison system.

In the Fulton cases, authorities fixed on Wright after they discovered he was using the murdered woman's credit cards. He lived only a few doors from Thompson, a single mother who was eight months pregnant and raising a 4-year-old daughter.

Wright also was charged with the murder of Thompson's unborn child and the beating of her daughter. The girl was beaten and bound with duct tape, and Howard said she saw Wright beat and rape her mother, drown her in the bathtub and stab her 10 times.

The other rape victim, a 20-year-old woman, was attacked and beaten as she slept. She could not identify her assailant, said Howard. Police had focused on another suspect until the DNA targeted Wright.

Ted Staples, who manages the state DNA database, said that in the past year, 79 felons have been linked to unsolved crimes. Eight links were made this month.

Police Receive Check From US Customs Service

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Dog's Ears Cropped Without Anesthesia

A pet owner is behind bars in East Point, Ga., after her dog's ears were damaged in an attempt to have them cropped, without anesthesia.

Police charged Dorothy Williams with animal cruelty after they say she allowed a stranger to perform a procedure called cropping. It is usually done in a veterinarian's office with anesthesia. In this case, it was done by a stranger without medicine.

"It appears the dog's ears had been cut with a pair of scissors or a razor," said Det. Eric T. Deem with the East Point Police Department.

Police found out about the "surgery" from neighbors who heard 6-month-old Jada crying.

At first, Williams denied she was the dog's owner, but then she changed her story, according to police.

"She said she authorized an unknown Black man, who said, quote, 'He was licensed to perform this procedure,' to crop the dog's ears," Det. Deem said. "When Miss Williams stated she had authorized this procedure to be performed, without anesthesia, to the dog, I advised her she was under arrest for animal cruelty."

The pit bull was brought to veterinarian Dr. Charles Durland.

"[Jada was] covered with dried blood from his head to his back and neck," Dr. Durland told 11Alive Reporter Jaye Watson.

Durland did what he could to repair the damage.

East Point police were still looking Thursday night for the man who cropped Jada's ears. They planned to arrest him.

Williams was expected to be arraigned on Saturday. She was being held on $5,000 bail.

Jada was living at the Fulton County Humane Society on Thursday night. Jada was not up for adoption. Her case was ongoing.

East Point man in dog abuse case heads to court


February 25, 2002 -- A man accused of abusing a pitt bull will be arraigned in East Point Municipal Court today.

Johnny Dawson, 43, was arrested Saturday for allegedly cutting the dog's ears with a scissors or a razor on Wednesday.

A woman where the dog lived was charged in the case last week.

Police say they are now looking into the possibility that Dawson has been doing this to other animals.

Theft stalled

A woman tried to rob members of an East Point congregation before an early morning church service Sunday, police said. East Point police Lt. Russell Popham said Michelle Lawrence, 43, of northwest Atlanta unsuccessfully tried to snatch a woman's pocketbook at the St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church around 7:45 a.m. Lawrence bit several churchgoers who came to the woman's aid and she tried to steal a car in the church parking lot before she was subdued by church members and arrested.

Police officer, goalie and official has passion for hockey



Staff photos by Scott Warhurst Police Sgt. Russell Castelletti, a 14-year veter


By Bill Baldowski

Neighbor Senior Staff Writer


Whether it’s stopping crime or stopping pucks, police Sgt. Russell Castelletti enjoys want he does.

The 14-year veteran of East Point Police Department’s uniform division has no apprehensions about getting shot either. The former detective said he has been shot at several times during the performance of his duties as a police officer, as well as while performing as a hockey goalie.

But as a goalie with the Metro Atlanta Police and Fire Amateur Ice Hockey Team, Castelletti is faced with diverting a different type of shot, one which is very similar to a gun shot, he said.

Castelletti is the only south Fulton public safety officer on the hockey team. He also serves as an official with the National Hockey League, he said.

The Atlanta team is preparing for an April 5 showdown against a hockey team comprised of New York fire and police officials. The game will be held at Philips Arena following the Atlanta Thrashers-New Jersey Devils game, with proceeds benefiting the families of the victims of the Sept. 11.

The 22-member squad plays against other amateur hockey teams throughout the metro area. The team has yet to choose an official name, but is considering the “Untouchables,” said Castelletti.

The team entered its first amateur ice hockey tournament last weekend in Charleston with a 2-2 record, he said.

Castelletti said Atlanta is one of several cities to organize amateur ice hockey teams composed of fire and police officials. Other cities include Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

Organized to enhance a spirit of fellowship among metro-Atlanta public safety officials, the team has formed a brotherhood through public safety and the love of ice hockey, Castelletti said. Eric Vail a player on the former Atlanta Flames hockey team serves as a team coach for the new amateur league.

A native of Long Island, N.Y., he is a life-long ice hockey player. His love of the game and “the great spirit of brotherhood among our team members and the teams we play, keeps me active in amateur hockey,” he said.

As an NHL net judge and penalty box official for three years, he has officiated more than 100 games for the Thrashers.

Castelletti said the fast-paced action and speed of ice hockey is what draws him to the game, and his position as goalie is the toughest on the ice.

“If the goalie makes a mistake, it usually results in a goal for the opponent and every fan probably knows the mistake you made,” he said.

Unfortunately, the team has not yet found a sponsor, therefore its players must buy their own equipment and uniforms as well as find their own means of transportation to practices and games. So far, Castelletti has invested more than $5,000 in hockey equipment, he said.

“I believe the fans coming for the Thrashers-Devils game will see a good amateur hockey contest following it because the Atlanta and New York teams are very competitive, and it is for a wonderful and very worthy cause,” he said.

Married less than a year, he said his wife Amanda is very supportive of his passion for the sport.

“It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for me to continue without her support,” he said.

The newlyweds have no children and reside in the East Point area.

For more information visit the team’s Web site at

Beating death blamed on feud


Police blamed a feud between two men, not road rage, on a vehicular battle that ended in an East Point parking lot where one driver allegedly beat the other to death with a baseball bat.

Police Capt. Bob Mathews said detectives obtained a murder warrant and were looking for Timothy Hill, 24, of Diana Drive S.W. He is accused of killing Benjamin Alford, 35, Friday evening.

The two were acquainted and had a "continuing dispute," Mathews said. "We don't know what they were mad about."

Mathews said witnesses reported seeing Hill, at the wheel of a Chevrolet Suburban truck, following Alford's '88 Oldsmobile Cutlass along Stanton Street, "ramming into the rear and side of the car."

The drivers wound up in the parking lot of a former brake repair shop on Woodberry Avenue, Mathews said, where Alford allegedly took a baseball bat from his trunk and "busted out the windows on Mr. Hill's truck."

Mathews said Hill got out, took the bat from Alford and allegedly struck Alford "several times about the head, hard enough to kill him. He was dead when we got there."

Officers, responding to a 911 call from a witness, found both vehicles and the baseball bat still in the parking lot.

Homicide suspect surrenders

Thursday, June 20, 2002

An Atlanta man sought by East Point police in the fatal beating of Benjamin Alford with a baseball bat Friday surrendered Tuesday night, police said. Capt. Patricia Boyce said Timothy Hill, 24, of Diana Drive S.W., Atlanta, turned himself in at East Point police headquarters at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday. He was accompanied by an attorney. Hill was charged with murder and armed robbery. Witnesses reported seeing Hill strike Alford several times in the head with a baseball bat.

Firefighter Arrested for Pandering

An Atlanta firefighter is out on bond Friday after allegedly trying to solicit sex from underage girls at an East Point apartment complex, East Point police said.

Officers had arrested Moses King Thursday afternoon after finding him in uniform at the Mira Head Terrace Apartments, located in the 3000 block of John Freeman Way. They charged him with three counts of pandering and one count of criminal trespass.

Police began looking for King after learning that he had allegedly been trying to solicit sexual favors from two or more girls -- all 17 year old or younger -- at an East Point apartment complex.

One of the teen-agers' grandmother allegedly reported the incident to police, according to East Point police Lt. P. A. Boyce. The grandmother claimed that King had been at the same complex about a week ago attempting to solicit sex from young girls.

Convicted wife-beater gets 40-year sentence

Thursday, June 27, 2002

You don't have to kill somebody to get decades in prison. Fulton County prosecutor Sharla Jackson won a conviction against an East Point man for beating his wife. Reuben Walls, 37, got 40 years.

"The East Point police said it was the worst non-homicide crime scene they had ever seen," said Erik Friedly, spokesman for the Fulton County district attorney's office.

Walls brutally beat his wife with a weight-lifting bar while in a jealous rage, District Attorney Paul Howard said.

Walls attacked Kimberly Lewis, 33, in their East Point home on West Woodberry Avenue on Jan. 27, 2001.

He beat her all over her body, and, as she attempted to escape out a window, he hit her in the back of the head, Howard said. She grabbed a knife in an attempt to defend herself, but Walls was able to wrestle it away and began stabbing her, the district attorney said.

He fled, and his wife lost consciousness. Walls was arrested the following day after he returned to the house and phoned police --- posing as a cousin --- to inquire whether a warrant had been issued for his arrest, Howard said.

Walls was found guilty of aggravated assault and aggravated battery.

Superior Court Judge John Goger sentenced him immediately after the four-day jury trial.

Police kill car chase suspect

Wednesday, July 3, 2002

A man was killed Tuesday in East Point when police shot him after a car chase that ended with his crashing and then trying to run over an officer, authorities said.

After the crash, two Atlanta police officers were walking toward the wrecked sport-utility vehicle when it backed toward one of the officers, said Capt. Pat Boyce of the East Point Police Department.

"The police sensed the physical threat. A car is a big weapon," she said.

If autopsy results, which are expected to be released today, confirm that gunshots killed the man, it would be the tenth fatal shooting by police in metro Atlanta this year, three more than this time last year. Police are withholding the victim's name pending notification of the family.

Boyce said the 10:45 a.m. incident at the eastbound Virginia Avenue on-ramp to I-85 South remains under investigation. Police did not say whether they found a weapon in the man's Lincoln Navigator.

A few witnesses questioned whether police had to shoot.

"The cops could have just let him go and then pursued him. They would have caught him," said Tyrone Jacobs, 27, manager of a nearby Texaco gas station. "There was a 90-year-old lady at the gas pumps. She was a nervous wreck."

The two Atlanta officers are Officer Charles Frye and Senior Officer Marilyn Stone, both of whom have been on the police force since 1973. Both have been placed on administrative assignment, as is routine following a police shooting. Atlanta police spokesman Sgt. John Quigley said both officers fired shots during the incident.

"He just sped past the police officers and ran a red light," said Quigley. "When he crashed, they pulled up. And when they walked over, he slammed it into reverse. Obviously they were frightened."

The car chase began when the Atlanta police officers spotted the gray SUV driving erratically on Virginia Avenue near the East Point border, police said. The pursuit ended a few blocks away when the vehicle, careening onto the I-85 South ramp, crashed into the guardrail, police said.

"The cop car stopped behind it," said Michael Wilgues, 26, of Santa Cruz, Calif., who was at a gas station. "They told the guy to get out and he wouldn't. Then he hit reverse and barreled off. And they started firing after him." Wilgues said the SUV reversed with enough force to drive the police car back 5 feet.

After the shooting, the SUV continued to travel across the Virginia Avenue overpass before crashing again on the other side.

Sgt. N, Jackson operates a LaserOfficials: Driving education needed

Wednesday, July 17,2002

The new state laws enacted by the General Assembly this year regarding teenage driving have been well received by public safety officials throughout the state.

However, many south Fulton public safety officials say these laws, by themselves, are not enough and believe more teen driver education and other programs relating to teen motorists are needed to curtail the alarming increase in traffic fatalities involving teens.

In what it hopes will be the first of many such teen driver education and responsibility programs, the South Fulton Regional Library at 4055 Flat Shoals Road in Union City will host a Driver’s Safety for Teens program July 17 beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The program, conducted by the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Georgia Insurance Information Service, will involve discussions on numerous topics regarding teen drivers, such as the new graduated driver’s license, teen drivers and car insurance, driving safety for teens and the potential financial exposure of a teen’s family if that teen is involved in a serious traffic accident.

David Coleman of the Georgia Insurance Information Services, said the program will convey valuable information to teenage drivers and their families.

Union City Police Chief Mike Isome said he sees the new state laws on teen driving as encouraging but he does not believe they are going to make an immediate impact on traffic accidents involving teens.

These laws need time to have the effect state lawmakers envisioned, he said.

South Fulton police officers also believe teenagers face as many potentially dangerous traffic hazards at intersections as they do on the open highway.

Sgt. Nate Jackson of the East Point Police traffic division, said drivers have a tendency, when approaching an intersection, to rush the traffic light and try to cross on yellow.

He said he believes intersection accidents are primarily caused by driver impatience as they attempt to “race the light” to avoid being detained.