Lake Park, Lake City killings could be linked - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lake Park, Lake City killings could be linked

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

August 1, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The Valdosta man suspected of shooting a Lake Park store clerk four times then stepping over his body to steal cigarettes remains in jail in Florida.

20-year old Daymon Heard is accused of gunning down Jay Patel at the Triangle Food Store Wednesday afternoon.  Now, he's a suspect in another murder.

Flowers mark the spot where 48 year-old Jay Patel was gunned down Wednesday night. But his family and friends are breathing easier knowing that his suspected killer is behind bars.

20 year-old Daymon Heard was captured Thursday afternoon after Lowndes County Investigators received a tip that several friends had driven him to Jacksonville Florida.

He was arrested by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and charged with possession of marijuana and possession with the intent to use drug paraphernalia.

"A search of the suspect once he was arrested revealed some marijuana and a digital scale," says Melissa Bujeda, Public Information Officer at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Only NBC cameras were rolling when Heard appeared in a Jacksonville Courtroom Friday but his rights weren't waived. Law enforcers there want to hold him for questioning for a few more days.

Once in Georgia, he'll be charged with murder and armed robbery. But investigators say he may face charges for another crime.

Last week, 56 year-old store clerk Linda Raulerson was shot and killed at the Joy America Food Store in Lake City, Florida. That shooting was just 50 miles down Interstate 75 and as seen in the store's surveillance video, the two are eerily similar. Investigators say they may be linked.

In a statement from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, the department said they "are actively looking at Daymon Heard, 20, as a suspect in the homicide of Linda Raulerson. Heard is a suspect in the Lake Park, GA shooting death of a convenience store clerk earlier this week and he is currently in police custody in Jacksonville. While there are similarities in the two crimes, there is nothing definitive at this point. At this point we cannot rule anything out: said Sheriff Bill Gootee. It is equally important for us to prove or disprove Mr. Heard's involvement in the murder of Mrs. Raulerson and that will take time."

"Some things we came across during that crime investigation tie into the Lake City investigation pretty well. I believe we are going to have some positive results out of it," adds Capt. JD Yeager of the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office.

And they now have new evidence that may connect the dots.

"We have recovered the weapons, the gun that was used in the murder and we have recovered the clothing that the individual was wearing," Yeager says.

Investigators say if Heard is extradited to Georgia this weekend he'll be arraigned in the Lowndes County jail courtroom on Monday.

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