Three suspects in custody after Hispanic terror -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Three suspects in custody after Hispanic terror

October 4, 2005

Tifton -- Authorities have arrested three people they say brutally attacked, and killed Hispanic immigrants. Two men and one woman are now charged with six counts of murder.

Investigators won't confirm whether they are looking for any more suspects, but say they believe up to four people are responsible for Friday morning's home invasion-style robberies.

Investigators made the announcement of the arrests in a press conference Wednesday morning. Though they are touting a victory in the case, they made certain to let everyone know the investigation is not over.

And for the Hispanic community, neither is their fear that the attacks could happen again.

After five days of investigating GBI Director Vernon Keenan announced three arrests. "Charged with six counts of murder are Stacy Sims age 19, Jamie Underwood age 27 and Jennifer Wilson age 26. All three are from Moultrie, Georgia," said Keenan.

Sims and Underwood are also charged with aggravated assault, aggravated sodomy, and rape for a Norman Park home invasion on Friday morning.

Authorities say the victims did not know the attackers, who they say are linked to several other recent home invasions. Keenan maintains the motive is robbery, but admits investigators are still asking themselves why Friday's attacks were so much more violent than the others. "We're dealing with vicious criminals, and they were preying upon weak people," Keenan said.

"I've been in law enforcement 30 years right here in this county and this is the worst we've ever been faced with. It's tragic. It's sad," said Tift County Sheriff Gary Vowell.

"We're just not accustomed to things like this happening in our community. This is something that happens somewhere else," says Colquitt County Sheriff Al Whittington.

Efrain Navarron Gomez was inside the mobile home on Parkway Drive where two men of the six were killed. He was able to run away and knocked on several doors trying to get help.

He tells translator Filiberto Hernandez listening to the announcements does little to calm his fears. "He says he still doesn't feel safe. He's got something in the back of his mind that bothers him," says Translator Filiberto Hernandez.

Ricardo Castillo lives a few feet from the mobile home Gomez escaped from. He too says the arrests don't give him much comfort. "We check the doors and the windows and lock them. We check every time outside," Castillo says.

He says he's had enough and isn't confident the attacks on his community are over. When asked if he might move, he replied, "Yeah, we're scared here."

GBI Director Vernon Keenan says investigators have recovered a lot of physical evidence from all three mobile home parks, and says it is being analyzed at the crime lab.

He would not say if any of the weapons or any money was recovered when the suspects were arrested. All three suspects are being held in the Tift County jail. There's still no word on when they will make their first appearance in court.

There will be a silent procession from city hall to Our Divine Savior Catholic Church in Tifton. It will begin at 7 PM Saturday.


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