ABAC student charged with murder

Published: Jan. 25, 2008 at 4:59 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2008 at 5:55 PM EST
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January 24, 2008

Tifton -- Crime scene tape surrounds a Cobb County home. Inside, family members found 16-year-old Marlisa Wells brutally beaten to death early Saturday morning.

"We determined that it was blunt trauma and sharp objects causing wounds to the head in neck area numerous times," said Austell Police Chief Bob Starrett.

The suspect arrested for the crime is 19-year-old Mathew Wilkins, a freshmen at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. Police say he was home from school for the weekend when the crime occurred.

"The ABAC Police force informed us that there were detectives on campus as part of an ongoing investigation," said Mike Chason, ABAC Director of Public Relations.

Detectives from the Austell Police Department searched Wilkins' dorm room inside the ABAC Place apartments late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. They were gathering evidence to find out what led up to this violent killing some 200 miles away from where he attended school.

"I just talked to him on Facebook one time. He was asking me about a friend I used to know back in Atlanta. And as far as seeing him on campus, I never seen him that many times," said ABAC freshmen Montre Wells who lives in the same dorm complex where Wilkins lived.

The freshman business major is now in the Cobb County Jail facing felony murder charges. He appeared before a judge on Monday where he was denied bond.

"We have a very safe campus with a police force on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. But again that had nothing to do with campus because it happened hundreds of miles away," said Chason.

Having only spent two semesters on campus with no previous record of misconduct reported at ABAC, Wilkins will now await trial for the murder of a 16-year-old girl.

Police say Wilkins and Wells attended Covenant Christian Ministries Academy together last year.

Wells was a student at South Cobb High School this year.

Campus officials at ABAC stressed that while this situation was unfortunate, it was an isolated incident far away from campus and that students and parents have no reason to be concerned.