Already this year, there have been more slayings in Statesboro and Bulloch County combined than were reported annually over the past three years.
Combined, there have been five killings within the Statesboro city limits and elsewhere in Bulloch County in the first eight months of 2014, according to data released by Statesboro police Cpl. Justin Samples and Bulloch County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jared Akins.
Most recently, Statesboro police are investigating the Aug. 15 shooting death of Eric Alexander Reese, 46, of Park Place Apartments. Lester Parrish, 17, of University Pointe Apartments, was charged Aug. 16 with murder and weapons offenses.
Gabriel Henderson, 38, of Denmark Street, was killed June 25 at a Morris Heights apartment. James Leslie Ward, 33, of Oak Hollow Drive, is charged in his killing.
Statesboro police are also investigating the Feb. 15 stabbing death of Marion Lamonte Wiggs at a Hart Street home. Dennis R. Weaver, 42, Twin City, is charged in Wiggs’ death as well as in an aggravated assault against Lakisha Weaver at the same location.
Bulloch County sheriff’s investigators are handling the Jan. 26 killing in which three men — Randolph Christopher Johnson, 24, of Eagle Villas Apartments; Willie O’Brian Baldwin, 27, of Honeycut Drive; and Earl Mathis Conyers, 22, of College Vue Apartments – were charged in the shooting death of Joy Lee Brown, 39, at her Oak Hill Mobile Home Park residence in Clito.
Sheriff’s investigators are also handling the slaying of Keith Wesley Brannen, 43, of Plantation Mobile Home Park, who was shot in the head during an altercation with James Jeffrey Stubbs, 52, at Stubbs’ home on B. Stubbs Road April 22. Brannen died at a Savannah hospital a few days afterward.
In 2010, there was only one slaying reported in the county, and none in the Statesboro city limits. In 2011, county investigators handled two homicides while city detectives investigated one reported killing.
In 2012, there were a total of four slayings, with two handled by the sheriff’s office and two investigated by city police.
There were two slayings in the Statesboro city limits in 2013 and none in the county, according to information supplied by Akins and Samples.
While the number of homicides has risen this year, and the year isn’t over, both Samples and Akins say the rise isn’t extreme. Neither can positively attribute the increase in killings to any specific factor, and both said their respective agencies take homicides very seriously.
“It is difficult to say what the cause for the increase could be,” Samples said. “One murder is too many.”
Akins said the numbers of specific crimes always varies from year to year. Population growth in the county brings newcomers to the area, who may bring criminal activity with them, he said.
“We have more people, and they bring a different kind of crime than we’ve seen in the past,” Akins said. “Crime in this county is changing.”
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.