Man arrested in 2002 Turner Co. triple homicide
REBECCA, Ga. (WALB) - Court documents show a suspect in the deaths of the Wideman family in 2002 has been indicted, more than 18 years after they were killed in Rebecca.
Prosecutors said Jason Michael Walker was arrested Wednesday morning after a Turner County grand jury indicted him Tuesday.
He was indicted on three counts of felony murder, three counts of malice murder, four counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated assault (family violence), one count of feticide and two counts of arson.
All six murder counts stem from the deaths of Tommy Joe, Deborah and Melissa Wideman. The feticide count is for the death of Melissa’s unborn baby. Walker was determined to be the unborn child’s father, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
Read the full indictment below:
The GBI held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to give an update in the case.
The incident and the investigation:
On Friday, March 22, 2002, the GBI Region 13 Office was requested by the Turner County Sheriff’s Office to assist in the death investigations of Thomas Joseph “Tommy Joe” Wideman, 51, his wife Deborah Wheeler Wideman, 48, and their daughter Melissa Wideman, 20. Melissa Wideman was over eight months pregnant at the time of her death. In the early morning hours of March 22, the Turner County Fire Department and sheriff’s office responded to a house fire at 13875 GA Hwy 112 East in Rebecca. The fire was reported by a truck driver passing by the home, according to the GBI.
Inside, firefighters found the three bodies, as well as the body of Melissa Wideman’s unborn child. The GBI Medical Examiner’s Office performed autopsies on the bodies and found the three adults had been shot and died prior to the fire, the GBI said.
“During the initial investigation, numerous investigative acts were conducted, evidence collected and processed, evidence analyzed at the crime lab, and numerous interviews were conducted until all leads were exhausted,” the GBI said in a release. “This initial investigation developed possible suspects in the murders; however, no persons were charged at that time.”
The GBI said the case was reassigned on December 9, 2014. A new GBI agent and Turner County investigator reviewed the original evidence and reinterviewed numerous witnesses.
“While the case was actively being investigated, a new witness contacted law enforcement,” the GBI said in a release. “The witness identified a white male leaving the scene of the Wideman residence during the time frame in which the murders occurred. This new information corroborated the evidence obtained during the initial investigation and the follow-up investigation conducted by the GBI and Turner County Sheriff’s Office.”
Anyone with any information related to the charges against Walker is asked to call the GBI Region 13 Office at (478) 987-4545, the Turner County Sheriff’s Office at (229) 567-2401 or the Tifton Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at (229) 386-7900. Tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS or be sent online by clicking here.
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