Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Who Bombed the Georgia Guidestones and Why?

 Back in 2008, almost 14 years ago, I blogged about one of the most notable mysteries in Georgia history, namely who was behind the construction and planning for the Georgia Guidestones and why? You can see that post here for all the backstory on them.

I had never gotten the chance to visit the Guidestones; in fact, I have never even been to the city of Elberton, Georgia close to where they were located. It is a shame that I was not able to visit, as they are no more. On July 6, 2022, someone planted a bomb at the site of the Guidestones and partially destroyed them. Because the damage, which did not knock down all of the monument, was considered to be crippling, the remaining parts of the monument were demolished by local authorities. As much as it pains me to say this, I feel that this was the right call. The remaining part of the monument was not the same without the part which was destroyed. It was a danger, and visitors would not only have been in harms way near the monument as it was left after the explosion, but the entire story would have been about the bombing at that point and not the message the monument conveyed before that.

So this begs a few questions. First, who did this? Right now, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations is in charge of the search for the perpetrator(s). There are a lot of unanswered questions about who did this. Currently, all that is known is that sometime in the pre-dawn hours on Wednesday, July 6th, an explosive device detonated and took out one of the four granite panels, essentially turning it into rubble. Video does exist of the explosion and can be seen at the CBS News link below. The video shows someone at the monument and then quickly running away right before the explosion around 4:00 AM that morning. There is also video of a silver sedan leaving the scene quickly afterwards. What many people did not know is that the monument has video surveillance filming around the clock. While the figure caught on camera is unrecognizable, the GBI says that they are working to enhance the image and using it to help jumpstart the investigation. At this time, the GBI and local police have not released any descriptions of the suspect or suspects. They do not know how many perpetrators may have been involved. The good news is the GBI has said it has many leads, so agents will be busy in the coming days investigating and following up on those leads.  

The second question involves asking why. Why did someone want to see this monument destroyed? Was it offensive to a large number of people? Did the stones contain cryptic messages that would upend humanity and the current world order? Well, those are more difficult questions to answer, for if they apprehend a suspect, more than likely, the suspect(s) won't talk much, as most of them never do. They just deny involvement despite mounting evidence to the contrary. For the most part, the monument was a HUGE tourist attraction and somewhat of a boom for Elberton and Elbert County. People from all over would travel to the area to visit the Guidestones, and while they were there, they would eat, tour, buy gas, and sometimes stay over in local hotels. This is no more unless the Guidestones will be rebuilt, and given the fact that the original financier/mastermind behind the original erection of the monument is unknown but to a few, and the fact that he may be a person who has already passed on, the likelihood of another build is somewhat in doubt. However, some local groups have talked about spearheading a fundraising effort to replace them. If so, I am sure they will try to replicate what was already there. The stones contained messaging that some took offense to for various reasons. The first message-" Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature"-seemed to alarm some, especially given that there are over eight billion humans on Earth as of 2022. This would mean that we are about 7.5 billion out of balance.  Others may have been afraid of the messages about uniting humanity with one language and possibly the one about nations settling external disputes with a world court. Some felt the Guidestones called for a "New World Order" and a "One World Government." The message about maintaining humanity under half a billion people was somewhat frightening to many in light of the Covid-19 pandemic with groups thinking that the mastermind behind the Guidestones could somehow be involved an international cabal that was promoting the spread of Covid-19 to wipe out large numbers of humans to align with the half a billion message. Who knows?

Whoever is to blame for the explosion and eventual demolition of the Georgia Guidestones has reasons for his or her actions, I am sure. However, it is truly an example of someone or some group taking violent action to stamp out a message with which they did not agree. I cannot think of anything less American than that. Were the Guidestones strange and mysterious? Yes. Was the shroud of mystery that surrounded the origins of the monument such that inspired conspiracy theories? Yes. Nonetheless, the monument presented no threat to anyone as it stood. If anything, the messages were thought-provoking and inspired debate and discussion about how or if they could be accomplished. Discussion and debate are never bad things, but silencing the things that inspire debate and discussion usually is. As Chris Kubas, the Executive Vice President of the Elbert Granite Association told CBS News, "If you didn't like it, you didn't have to come see it and read it."

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Is the Old Governor's Mansion in Milledgeville Haunted by Old Molly?

 Often called the First Lady of Milledgeville, or the Gem of Milledgeville, the Old Governor's Mansion is the centerpiece of the historic district in Millledgeville and one of the highlights of the Georgia College & State University Campus. Designed by noted architect Charles Cluskey, an Irish immigrant, and built by Connecticut builder Timothy Porter, the mansion was finished in about 1839 (Georgia College & State University, 2021). While Milledgeville was founded in 1803 and named for Georgia Governor John Milledge, the state legislature did not designate the city the permanent capital of Georgia until 1805, and the state legislature opened its first official meeting in the city in the newly constructed statehouse in 1807. The Old Capital Building is now the main administrative building and a classroom facility at Georgia Military College's main site in Milledgeville. The Old Governor's Mansion did not begin housing governors until 1839, well after the seat of power was moved there 32 years prior. The first governor to occupy the mansion was Governor George Rockingham Gilmer, who moved in in 1839 during the end of his term (Turner, 2013). Other governors who lived there were Charles McDonald, George Crawford, George Towns, Howell Cobb, Herschel Johnson, Joseph Brown, Provisional Governor James Johnson, Charles Jenkins, and Provisional Governor General Thomas Ruger (Turner, 2013). Howell Cobb also served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and President Buchannan's Secretary of the Treasury, and Herschel Johnson was Stephen Douglas' running mate in 1860 against eventual winner Abraham Lincoln. Governor Ruger was appointed as military governor during Reconstruction (Turner, 2013).

While the mansion was the center of power for a few chaotic periods of Georgia history, perhaps the most memorable of those epochs was the arrival of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman as he entered the city of Milledgeville during his famous March to the Sea in November 1864. While in Milledgeville, Sherman stayed at the mansion. Other events that occurred in the state while the mansion served as the home of the chief executives were the Cherokee Removal and Trail of Tears and the Civil War itself. 

One can imagine that a home to so many influential politicians and so many chaotic and perilous events discussed, managed, and even played out in or near the mansion, that there would be stories of the supernatural and strange. I have gone on many tours of the mansion in the last 15 years, one of them recently as part of their Death: After Dark Tour Series where I learned about the way our ancestors in the 19th century dealt with death. Of particular interest was the death of the brother of Governor Joseph Emerson Brown-Joseph Mackey Brown. He died as the result of a wound while serving as an officer in the Confederate service. Joseph M. Brown died in the mansion in July of 1864. In fact, the mansion used to do a murder mystery tour where guests try to solve the murder of Mr. Brown, albeit he was not murdered and was killed as a result of military action, a fact the mansion staff makes very clear (Pound, 2017).  

Along those lines, during the Death: After Dark Tour I attended was about over, one patron asked the tour guide, who was quite the storyteller and very familiar with the history of the mansion, if there were any ghost stories or episodes of the paranormal that she could relate. She stated very clearly that the mansion was not haunted, and that the staff knew of no ghost stories she could recall. However, some have had quite a different experience in the mansion through the years. The man responsible for establishing the mansion as a historical "must visit" was James Turner, who was the Mansion Director and Adjunct Professor of History at GCSU. Sadly, he passed away in 2017, and in his stead, the mansion was left in the care of Matthew Davis, his protégé. Matthew has turned the mansion into an even greater historical asset to Georgia, and has even managed to get the mansion affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution. During Turner and Davis' tenures at the mansion, thousands of visitors and researchers have visited the mansion, not to mention the many students, employees, docents, and graduate assistants. 

Although I have never sat down and discussed this with Matthew or asked him if he has found anyone by the name of Molly in the historical record at the mansion, stories do abound about a cook who served in the mansion. Apparently Molly was well-known for a few of her specialties, which included black-eyed peas with pork and blueberry muffins. Some visitors and workers at the mansion have reported smelling those things inside the mansion itself, although there is no place in the mansion where those items could be cooked. While the mansion includes the restored kitchen where food was prepared in days of old, the wood-fired stoves and fireplaces are no longer operated and there would be no one cooking those items inside the mansion. While no one is sure of who "Molly" is, nor when she lived in the mansion or if she is even real, it should be noted that there is a cafeteria nearby the mansion across the street at the Maxwell Student Union. Food is served there to students at GCSU. It should also be noted that there are bakeries in downtown Milledgeville, most notably Ryals Bakery, that could be the source of the smell of the blueberry muffins. However, the timeframe of when these stories were told and originated is not known. 

Besides the smells associated with "Molly," the cooking ghost, stories are told of bed-linens being tossed from their beds, and the scent of cigars. It should be noted that there is no smoking allowed inside the mansion, and the policy is strictly enforced. Another story involves the local fire department. Once, the staff of the mansion smelled burned potatoes. The smell became so strong that it alarmed everyone, and for safety sake, the fire department was called. Upon arrival and investigation, the source of the smell was never found (Hargrett, 2014). 

So is the mansion haunted? Or are these stories just the flights of fancy of ghost hunters or the over-active imagination of staff and visitors who are projecting their fears and suspicion and making more of the issues than there really is? Could the smells have originated outside the mansion? Was there ever a cook there named "Molly?" If so, is it possible that she is still hanging around the mansion and its grounds cooking up the victuals for which she was so well-known? I have no clue, but what I do know is that a visit to the mansion is never disappointing, and stepping into the building is like stepping back into the 1850s. 

                                            Photo courtesy of gcsu.edu and the OGM page.

Hargrett, K. (October 29, 2014). "The Ghost of the Old Governor's Mansion," 41WMGT. Retrieved from: https://www.41nbc.com/the-ghost-of-the-old-governors-mansion/.

Pound, G. (October 13, 2017). "First-Ever Murder Mystery at Old Governor's Mansion Sells Out in an Hour," The Union-Recorder. Retrived from: https://www.unionrecorder.com/news/first-ever-murder-mystery-at-old-governor-s-mansion-sells-out-in-an-hour/article_4c5ad78a-afc7-11e7-8cc9-bb4d2fd8c7a7.html.

Turner, J. (2013). Old Governor's Mansion. In New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archeologuy/old-governors-mansion/.

Georgia College & State University. (2021). Georgia's Old Governor's Mansion. GCSU. Retrieved from: https://www.gcsu.edu/mansion.

The Strange Disappearance of Justin Gaines

 One of the highest profile disappearances in Georgia was that of Justin Gaines. Gaines, 18 years old and a freshman at what was then called Gainesville State College, now part of The University of North Georgia, decided to spend the evening with friends at a local nightclub and hangout known as Wild Bill's in Duluth, Georgia in Gwinnett County. That would be the last night anyone would see Justin Gaines. The date was November 2, 2007.

The Thursday night in question was a popular night at Wild Bill's-Thirsty Thursday, as they called it. Local police investigating the case said there were over 3000 people in attendance that night at the club. While there, surveillance cameras picked up Justin on their footage, but then he simply vanished. The last image where showed up was of him making a cell phone call to a friend to come and pick him up. After that, the cameras had no more images of the missing teenager. From what police understand, Justin phoned several friends, and none of them were able to come and pick him up from the club. So, Justin left the club around 1:30 AM.

There are several important things to note about Justin while he was at the club. Apparently, he took a lot of cash with him to Wild Bill's. Why is unclear. Additionally, he was wearing a diamond earring in his ear, something he routinely wore out and about. Detectives investigating the case theorized that this probably attracted the attention of the wrong kind of person, and that could have had something to do with his disappearance. The theory gained some traction with the emergence of a suspect named Dylan Glass, a convicted felon and gang member. Glass told police that he indeed did assault Justin and took the diamond earring from his ear, but he did not kill Justin. As of 2017, Glass was not charged with the anything related to the Gaines case, but Glass was in federal prison at the time of the confession serving a sentence for unrelated charges. One thing to note about Glass, however, is rumors have circulated about him telling a friend he killed Justin Gaines, and according to Justin's mother, Erika Wilson, Glass was saying this prior to her reporting Justin as missing. While such a claim is difficult to substantiate and Glass maintains he does not know the whereabouts of Justin nor did he kill the 18-year old boy, in 2011, another suspect, Martin Leonard Wilkie was arrested for concealing a death. The reason: Glass told authorities that he and Wilkie had in fact assaulted Gaines and shot him to death. It gets worse from there. Glass and Wilkie supposedly placed Justin's body in a toolbox and then took it to Walton County. Horribly, Glass' mother, Ruth Ballew, was potentially involved, as it was told that she helped the two men dispose of the body. She even led investigators to the location where they supposedly dumped Justin, but no body or evidence of remains were found there. Ultimately, she was charged with making false statements to police.

Police also strongly believe a blonde-haired lady lured Justin into her car for a ride home form the club. The next is just theory. They think the woman took Justin to a house in nearby Snellville where he was robbed and killed. They further theorize that the killers probably threw his body in Lake Lanier, and when it surfaced, they retrieved it and dumped it down a well, which some say was in nearby Barrow or Walton County. Police investigators have searched nearby wells for human remains, and nothing has been found. To this date, no one has seen him, heard from him, nor found further evidence of his whereabouts. Remains have been found near Lake Lanier, but so far, none of them have been identified as Justin Gaines. 

So the question remains, what happened to the boy? Why did he not have a ride home from the club? Did he tell anyone at the club where he planned to go after the night was over? Who was this mysterious blonde woman who supposedly lured him into her car for a ride home? Did the money he flashed and his diamond ring draw attention from thieves and miscreants who then robbed and killed him? Did Dylan Glass really assault Justin and take his diamond earring but leave him alive, or does he know more than he is telling?  Did he and Wilkie shoot Justin and dump his body off in Walton County with the help of Ruth Ballew, Glass' mother? If not, why did they lie, and why did Ruth Ballew put herself in jeopardy by lying to police and taking them on a wild goose chase looking for a body that wasn't there or ever was? Or was it at one time?  Another pressing question is that Justin's parents told him that he could always call them for a ride home, no matter what time of night or morning it was, but he didn't. Why? Of course, the ultimate and most important questions are, what happened to Justin Gaines, and where are his remains?

The above is a picture of Gaines at 18. Today, he would be 32 years old. He stood at 5'10-5'11 and weighed about 230 pounds at his disappearance. There is a reward for information leading to his remains or for information that could solve the case. His mother and investigators believe that Justin is dead, so this is a recovery rather than a rescue attempt.

Further Reading:
Coyne, A.C. (November 2, 2017). The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved from: https://www.ajc.com/news/local/now-been-years-since-gwinnett-teen-justin-gaines-disappeared/Vbl3QRbE4hmzJjCpw9ig6L/.

Kellog, B. (September 30, 2019). 11Alive. Retrieved from: https://www.11alive.com/article/news/crime/justin-gaines-human-remains/85-9086be5f-fa30-4885-8c24-554b9b228e1e.

The Charley Project (March 12, 2018). Justin Glen Gaines. Retrieved from:  https://charleyproject.org/case/justin-glen-gaines.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Eerie Georgia: Chilling Tales from the Mountains to the Sea by Jim Miles, A Good Read!

 Jim Miles has staked out a position in the Georgia paranormal literary world as "Mr. Weird Georgia," mostly owing the moniker to his many books on ghosts and the supernatural in Georgia. Some of his most popular books are Weird Georgia: Close Encounters, Strange Creatures, and Unexplained Phenomena, Civil War Ghosts of Atlanta, and Haunted North Georgia. He has also released a number of books on the Civil War in Georgia. Recently, I ran across one of his more recent books from the last few years, and I am glad I did. Eerie Georgia: Chilling Tales from the Mountains to the Sea is a great read. It is jam packed with vignettes about the strange, supernatural, weird, and unexplained in the Peach State. Written in narrative style, Miles provides access to some of the weirdest, yet interesting events in Georgia. Some of the more common stories can be found in the book, including sightings of Altamaha-ha, otherwise known as Georgia's Loch Ness monster, and the ghosts of the Windsor Hotel in Americus, but Miles also presents a bevy of other tales that even the most avid reader of strange and macabre tales from Peach State, like me, might never have heard. I have taken the liberty of listing a few of those below, as well as a brief description of the tale. These were some of the more interesting to me.

1. Connie's Sage-This story details memories related to the author by a lady who claimed to have alien encounters throughout her life, and vivid details about at least three encounters, one of which was in her youth, and another that included her husband. The story was definitely weird and has the potential to cause chill bumps, particularly with the extreme circumstances behind the encounters and contact with the beings she described.

2. Ancient Roman Coin-This narrative particularly interested me as an historian and professor of history. The story relates details about a woman who once lived in a small community outside Savannah and her issues with the septic lines outside her home. When a professional came and dug into the yard in an attempt to fix the problem an ancient Roman coin was unearthed. The discovery brought up great points about the historical narrative and assumption that Christopher Columbus and his crews were the first Europeans to successfully explore and infiltrate the interior of North America. Of course, the voyages of Leif Erickson are also relevant to this discussion, but even so, the Roman coin would predate the Leif Erickson voyage by a millennium or more. This story is definitely one that most Georgians know nothing about and has the potential to cause a divergence from the accepted narrative about the Age of Exploration and Discovery.

3. Mad Gassers-Similar to stories from the Midwest and other parts of the country, Columbus and Bainbridge seemed to have an issue with what the writer calls a Mad Gasser. In one account, a family dog was able to wake up the rest of the family before too much damage was done, people were harmed, or property stolen. The gasser escaped, but his fumes, piped into the home via windows, did have an impact on the residents and made some of them ill. In yet another account from Bainbridge, the gasser attacked several times and several families in a neighborhood in the mid-1940s, just as World War II was coming to a close. Filling the homes with a sweet smelling gas that made residents ill, one family was so frightened they left their home and had to stay with neighbors. As is to be expected, no one was ever charged with the crimes, so the Mad Gassers were at large for quite a while. With the large chunk of time that has passed, it would be quite logical to assume they are now dead, that is if death came naturally to whatever or whomever this fiend was.

The book describes a great deal of phenomena in Georgia. From the Mud Volcano at the Temple of Nodoroc to the stories about falling fish from the sky, Eerie Georgia will not disappoint. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Happy New Year!!!

 Greetings to all my followers and readers!
I want to wish you all a Happy New Year, and although we are already ten days into 2021, I felt compelled to come to the blog and wish you all the best and brightest in this new year. I know that we have been through quite a spell, as my great-grandmother used to say, in 2020, and 2021 has not started off much better, if any better at all. However, there is much to look forward to in 2021. We have vaccines, and we hope and pray they work. We have a new administration coming in, and although I never reveal how I vote, and I have no intention of making this blog a political blog at all, a new administration always brings with it new ideas and optimism about solving old and new issues. Like I did with President Trump, I plan to give President Biden the respect he deserves as the new leader of the free world and hope that he can help grow and heal the country. I wish President Trump all the best-and yes, I refer to him as President Trump, as that is what he is. I do not, nor will I ever engage in name-calling or childish antics. I, like so many others right now, plan to demonstrate the attitude and behavior we expect to see from our elected leaders. In other words, I plan to "Be the change I want to see." I hope and pray that you all will as well, and that our leaders, from BOTH parties, will do so along with us. I do wish you all the best, and another thing to look forward to is more posts from me in the new year. There are some exciting things happening, and I plan to post about recent events so that you may be able to follow them.

Again, Happy New Year, and I wish you all the best in the coming days. God bless.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Grey Ghost of Kinchafoonee Creek: Bigfoot, Farmer, or Hog-Bear?

 Although the most noted bigfoot story in Georgia tends to be the one that comes from the depths of the Okefenokee Swamp in 1829, there are many more, including the Elkins Creek incident that are as notable and hair-raising if I do say so myself. One that has grown in popularity is the Kinchafoonee Creek Attack in 1955. I am sure the name of the creek rings a bell given the recent fame of the musical group-The Kinchafoonee Cowboys. The group hails from Terrell County, Georgia with several of the members having grown up near the banks of Kinchafoonee Creek. That is, interestingly, from where our story hails, albeit about 36 years prior to the first time the Kinchafoonee Cowboys strung together a few chords and recorded their first song. In fact, it predates the Elkins Creek incident by about forty years. 

For this incident, I got back to my book Bigfoot in Georgia as well as to a few sites that chronicle the strange and unusual-such sites as cryptopia.us. The sighting can also be read in Janet and Colin Bord's Bigfoot Casebook Updated. It seems to be a quite interesting AND popular case in the world of Bigfoot sightings and reports. 

According to the report, on August 1, 1955, a 20 year-old man named Joseph Whaley (Wells, 2010; Morphy, 2018) was cleaning brush with a scythe in Terrell County, Georgia on the Bronwood-Smithville Highway. The area was near Kinchafoonee Creek (Bord & Bord, 2006), which was known to be infested with alligators (Morphy, 2018). The day was hot and muggy, and the only reason Whaley was out in such weather doing such a job was he was working for the Georgia Forestry Commission. As he moved along with his work, he stopped because he heard a strange noise coming from the thicket near the banks of the creek (Morphy, 2018). The noise must have been similar to that made by wild pigs because in the report, Whaley mentioned that he assumed that is what the culprit indeed was. He moved in closer to see, and that was when he claimed a huge ape-like creature busted through the canopy in the thicket trying to attack him. Whaley described the animal as about six feet tall, about 400 pounds, and covered with hair that was both grey and shaggy in appearance (Wells, 2010; Morphy, 2018; Bord & Bord, 2006). According to Whaley, the animal also had tusks and pointed ears, as well as thick arms and small hands (Morphy, 2018). 

Having been frightened by the animal, Whaley swung his scythe at it. His swing made contact and struck the animal on its chest and one of its arms. Undeterred, the creature continued to move toward Whaley who decided that he had better get back to the jeep he had come to the site in and get away from the area as quickly as possible (Wells, 2010). It was then that the beast roared loudly. Whaley ran quickly to his jeep and decided to radio for help, a questionable decision at that point given that he was under attack. He was unable to make contact, so Whaley jumped in the jeep and tried to start it; however, right as he attempted to start the vehicle, the creature yanked him through the window which caused his shirt to tear and resulted in flesh wounds to his left should. Whaley reported that there were three scratches on his left shoulder as a result of the contact (Morphy, 2018). He managed to get himself free from the creature and crawl quickly out the passenger's side of the jeep and hurriedly ran into the thick woods with the beast in pursuit (Morphy, 2018). Reaching the woods, his face and body were pelted with limbs and branches from the thicket of trees and shrubs in the thicket near the creek. He would often glance back to keep tabs on how close this fiend of an animal was to him, and he soon realized he had indeed put distance between himself and whatever this was. Circling back through another area, he soon reach the jeep, leaped in, found his keys, started the jeep and screeched away. His next stop was at the nearest ranger station where he was treated for the scratches on his shoulder. He was also able to report the incident to the ranger, Jim Bowen, who was able to recall the story and repeat it under oath when asked (Morphy, 2018). The incident also attracted the attention of the media, and a United press representative contacted Bowen who reported to the journalist that he indeed followed up on the report and went to the scene of the attack and found evidence of a struggle. Others who explored the scene also reported the appearance of tracks that were small and the size of a human hand (Morphy, 2018). There was indeed something that attacked Whaley according to the evidence. Bowen saw the scratches; he saw the evidence of a struggle at the site, and others reported tracks found that were similar to the small hands Whaley mentioned the creature had. However, not everyone believed Whaley (Morphy, 2018).

Terrell County Sheriff Zeke Matthews reported finding no trace of the creature, and even stated that had he believe Whaley, he would have carried on a full-scale search. The investigation he did conduct lasted one day. By the time the sun set on Terrell County on August 1, 1955, the sheriff's search had ended. As GBI agents investigated the attack, they reached the conclusion that the attack had been carried out by an angry farmer who dressed up in a costume to scare off trespassers and folks who were fishing in his private lake without his permission. The costume was nothing more than a Halloween mask, according to the GBI. However, there was some confusion, as the director of the GBI, Major Delmar Jones, went on to state that the attack was probably not the farmer, but was the result of a "hog-bear" attack. He described "hog-bears" as little black bears that were not nearly as large as grizzly bears (Morphy, 2018). 

So there are a few questions here. First, if it were a "hog-bear," as Agent Jones proposed, why did Whaley not recognize that he was being attacked by a bear? Second, was there a rash of "hog-bear" attacks in the area, or at least reports of sightings of these animals? Third, did anyone think to ask the farmer if it were him? Fourth, why would Whaley make up such a story and jeopardize his job and place in the community? Fifth, why did the sheriff not further investigate and ask those questions? Sixth, what was the animal/creature that attacked Whaley? Was it a bear? A grey bigfoot? This case is now 65 years old. It is doubtful that we will ever know what the "Grey Ghost of Kinchafoonee Creek" really was.

Bord, J. & Bord, C. (2006). Bigfoot casebook updated: Sightings and encounters from 1818 to 2004. Eunemclaw, Washington: Pine Winds Press.

Morphy, R. (2018). "Grey ghost of Kinchafoonee: Georgia, USA," Retrieved from: https://www.cryptopia.us/site/2018/06/grey-ghost-of-kinchafoonee-georgia-usa/.

Wells, J. (2010). Bigfoot in Georgia. Eunemclaw, Washington, Pine Winds Press.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Dennis Perry's Conviction in the Murders of Harold and Thelma Swain Overturned!

In April of this year, I posted a pretty lengthy blog post about the murder of Harold and Thelma Swain, an older African American couple in Waverly, Georgia who were gunned down in cold blood by a white male assailant as they worshiped at Rising Daughters Baptist Church. In 2003, Dennis Perry was convicted of the murder, and he has served almost 17 years of two life sentences for the double homicide. This week, Dennis's conviction was overturned, and he is out on bond after the judge ordered that he be released on his own recognizance.

Reports from Fox News indicate a judge overturned Perry's 2003 conviction based on DNA evidence from the crime scene that matched another suspect, Erik Sparre, aged 57. Sparre, who was originally a suspect, was dropped from the list of suspects by police when he was able to produce an alibi for the time of the murders; however, his alibi was recently proven to be false. Once Dennis Perry's attorney found out that the alibi was not legitimate, they requested DNA tests. The tests revealed DNA found at the scene did not match Perry, and instead matched Erik Sparre. The DNA sample used to match the DNA found at the scene of the murders was provided by Sparre's mother, Gladys Sparre. In a strange twist to this story, Gladys Sparre was found dead in her Waynesville home on Sunday, July 19th. She had been seen alive as recently as Friday, July 17th. At this time, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations is investigating and awaiting the results of an autopsy.

So what happens to Dennis Perry? Keep in mind that at this point, he is out on bond. For now, it is up to the District Attorney for that judicial circuit as to whether or not Dennis Perry will be retried. Judging from all the evidence stacking up against Erik Parre, I doubt that Perry will be retried, and it is likely that an indictment of Parre could be an option.  The Georgia Innocence Project was behind Perry much of they way. My earlier blog in April about this case outlines the problems with evidence presented by prosecutors, as well as the information about the attempts to free Dennis Perry. The GBI reopened the case in May, and the district attorney commented they were waiting on the GBI to wrap-up that investigation before making a decision either way. Perry's attorneys from the Georgia Innocence Project are calling on the district attorney and state to drop all charges against Perry in light of the evidence discovered recently pointing to the fact his DNA did NOT match any DNA found at the murder scene.

So, as I always do, I pose a few questions.
1. Why was the alibi for Erik Parre not thoroughly investigated? Or was it?
2. Where is all that missing evidence that supposedly pointed to Dennis Perry as the killer?
3. Have the sheriff and district attorney in the original case commented on the recent findings?
4. What motive might Erik Parre have had to kill the Swains? Did he know them at all?
5. What happened to Gladys Parre? Was she murdered? If so, could it have been in retaliation for providing a hair sample for DNA testing?
6. Did Gladys Parre willfully provide the DNA sample?

Hopefully, the GBI will wrap-up their investigation soon. Here is a clip from First Coast News out of Jacksonville, Florida, the major metropolitan area nearest Waverly.