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Home invasion trend is frightening

June 11, 2003

(Camilla)-- It seems to be a disturbing trend. In the last six months home invaders have burst into five south Georgia homes and killed eight people. The latest murder happened Friday night in Camilla.

When two young Camilla men showed up at the house late Friday night, they never expected to walk up on an armed robbery. So they turned to run and were shot in the back. 

"After Niko and Mr. Riggens saw that it was a robbery both of them tried to break and run and both of them were shot," said the victim's aunt, Bevery Keaton.  

19-year-old Niko Neal was found laying in the grass. He later died, but Aaron Riggens survived. 

Police say three men, Brandon Dowell, Christopher Zanders and Travis Mack, along with a juvenile stormed the house, while another juvenile waited in a get-away car.

Camilla Police investigator Vernon Nobles says, "They got all the people, brought them into the living room and had them tied up laying on the living room floor."

They were looking for money and maybe drugs.  The four defendants went in the residence hollerin' out where's the dope and the money." 

The two juveniles were caught in Camilla. The three adults were caught in Jasper, Florida, where they live. Neal's family says he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Angelina Grissom  the victim's sister says, "He was just an innocent bystander passing by at the time."

The case is similar to four others in south Georgia.  Five men were killed in two home invasions in Coffee County in March. Just last week in Albany, masked gunmen killed a man at Strawder Fox Apartments.  That came after a similar murder at West Road Apartments in December. 

Investigator Nobles says, "We have had some contact with Albany Police. I'm not familiar enough with their case to say if it's similar or not." Police did say in the Albany cases, no one was tied up during the robberies. No arrests have been made in either Albany case.

The three men are in the Mitchell County Jail and the two juveniles are in Blakely at the Youth Detention Center. Niko Neal's three-week old baby girl, who was born premature, is supposed to come home from the hospital Wednesday.


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