GBI on day 2 of investigations in Dooly Co. homicide, death cases

GBI on day 2 of investigations in Dooly Co. homicide, death cases
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

BYROMVILLE, GA (WALB) - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Dooly County Sheriff's Office are investigating the deaths of three people in Byromville.

The call came in at 4:15 Thursday morning.

Dooly County deputies immediately responded to the scene and found Priscilla Adams, 47, and an infant younger than 2 dead in the yard of a house on Hill Street.

A  K9 unit searching the area soon found Willie James Merrell, 60, in a yard across the street.

Thursday afternoon, officials clarified that Adams' and the infant's death are being investigated as homicides, while Merrell's is considered a death investigation.

Autopsies were performed Friday morning for Adams, the toddler and Merrell.

Officials said Merrell died from one gunshot wound to the upper torso, but would not confirm if it was a homicide or suicide.

Additionally, a rifle was found at the scene and ATF is running the serial number to find the owner.

"We are the fact-finders, that are out there looking for the information, trying to put it together as to exactly what happened this morning around 4 a.m.," said GBI Special Agent in Charge JT Ricketson.

Adams' daughter, who is 17, was found injured at the scene was taken to Navicent Hospital in Macon for surgery. She is stable, and officials have spoken with her.

Officials said that the infant isn't related to Adams or the teen, but said Adams' son is dating the infant's mother.

The GBI began investigating around 5 a.m. Thursday and remained on the scene past sundown.

It appears that all the victims were shot.

Ricketson said that their search area is expanding beyond the immediate scene.

Leon Clayton said he lives right down the road, and the gunshots woke him up early Thursday.

"Small as Byromville is, when you hear gunshots, you kind of notice it, you know," Clayton, who said he knew the victims, explained. "They were good people. All of them were good people."

Dooly Co. Sheriff Craig Peavy said this crime is tough to process.

"You don't know how to prepare for this," Sheriff Peavy said. "You patrol, you put your guys out there, but some things you just can't prevent. You just have to go in there and solve it after it happens."


Family and friends are demanding answers as to what led to the shocking deaths of their loved ones.

Relatives are heartbroken after learning the devastating news. They said senseless crimes like this don't happen often in Byromville.

"Why take my grandson's life. It's stupid, but whoever did this, I want them to pay and pay dearly," said Bessie Ingram.

It's a heartbreaking reality for the grandmother of the 17-month-old infant that was killed early Thursday morning.

"He was a happy baby, always into something always smiling at me," said Ingram.

The smile of her fourth grandchild is gone forever -- thoughts she couldn't even fathom.

The infant was found dead with Priscilla Adams, 47, in the yard of a house on Hill Street.

And in a yard across the street, the body of Willie James Merrell, 60, was discovered.

"We don't know," said Dorris Merrell, Willie's sister. "He was a good man. He was kind to the neighborhood. And people loved him," said Ricky Merrell, Willie's brother.

Doris and Ricky said they were very close to their brother who went by Shinebone.

Well-known in the community, Shinebone would sell fruits and vegetables, firewood, and even cut his neighbors trees.

"I know Ms. Adams, yeah, we all know her. Yes she was a close friend to my parents. She always loved to come over and talk to my mommy and daddy," said Ricky.

In this small town with a population of about 600, residents said senseless crimes like this don't happen.

"Only time Byromville really loud is when the peanut mill going on. Other than it's quiet," said Tony Minor, Merrell's cousin.

"You can hide but God sees everything, hmmm, God sees everything," said Ricky.

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