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Eight charged, three sought in multi-county investigation
Cow killing, illegal hunting and theft among charges
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The ruthless killing of a Portal farmer’s cows earlier this month mushroomed into a lengthy investigation, spanning several counties. Eight of 11 suspects were jailed on a variety of charges, but three remained at large Friday.

Charges range from aggravated animal cruelty, illegal hunting, burglary and theft to drug and traffic charges, said Bulloch County sheriff’s Capt. Todd Hutchens.

The probe was led by Bulloch County sheriff’s Investigator William Sims and Ranger First-Class Jason Miller with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, but during the course of the investigation, BCSO Cpl. Morgan Jones identified one man suspected in the cow killing incident, Hutchens said.

Jones first linked Justin Lee Bunch Sr. of Screven County to the shooting of three cows belonging to Scott Skrine, and that information led to the arrest of Amy Leigh Faunce, 21, of Rocky Ford, and Dallas Lee Potter, 17, of Portal, who are also suspects in the cow shootings.

But as investigators worked the case, they discovered more crimes and eventually made more arrests.

The case “snowballed into several other cases tied to these individuals,” he said.

Miller became involved when responding to numerous complaints of night hunting in the area. As the case progressed, with other agencies becoming involved, more charges surfaced.

Some of the 11 suspects were involved in selling stolen guns and actually stealing the guns, possibly from the home of a Bulloch County sheriff’s deputy, Hutchens said.

Some suspects face charges in Jenkins, Screven and Candler counties as well as Portal. The Burke County Dive Team assisted in the investigation, too, searching the Ogeechee River for stolen property that may have been dumped by suspects, he said.

The three suspects still at large are Jerry Foster Morris Jr., Jim Craig Wilkerson Jr. and Richard William Wilkerson.

The 11 suspects and their charges are as follows:

▲ Justin Lee Bunch Sr., 23, of Screven County — Bulloch County charges: three counts of aggravated animal cruelty, three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, felony theft by taking, misdemeanor theft by taking, second-degree criminal damage to property, three counts of theft by receiving stolen property, fleeing/attempt to elude, obstruction and 12 traffic charges; Georgia DNR charges: two counts of night hunting deer, two counts of hunting big game from a public road, discharging a firearm on or near a public roadway, two counts of hunting from a vehicle, hunting without a license, hunting without a big game license and two counts of  failure to obtain a deer harvest record; Screven County charges are pending.

▲ Walter Floyd Bunch, 23, of Portal – Bulloch County/Portal charges: third-degree cruelty to children, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of drug-related objects and obstruction.
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▲ Amy Leigh Faunce, 21, of Rocky Ford — Bulloch County charges: second-degree criminal damage to property, three counts of aggravated animal cruelty, two counts of theft by receiving stolen property and felony theft by taking; Georgia DNR charges: two counts of night hunting deer, two counts of hunting big game from a public road, discharging a firearm on or near a public roadway, two counts of hunting from a vehicle, hunting without a license, hunting without a big game license and two counts of  failure to obtain a deer harvest record; Candler County charges: obstruction; Screven County charges are pending.

▲ Dallas Lee Potter, 17, of Portal — Bulloch County charges: second-degree criminal damage to property, three counts of aggravated animal cruelty and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

▲ Jim Craig Wilkerson Sr., 48, of Portal — Georgia DNR charges: two counts of night hunting deer, two counts of hunting big game from a public road, discharging a firearm on or near a public roadway, two counts of hunting from a vehicle, hunting without a license, hunting without a big game license, two counts of failure to obtain a deer harvest record, hunting out of season, hunting with an illegal weapon, hunting after obtaining hunting limit and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

▲ Jim Craig Wilkerson Jr., 23, of Portal — Charges from the Georgia DNR and Bulloch and Screven counties are pending, as the suspect remains at large.

▲ Michael Hunter Tilley, 19, of Brooklet — Bulloch County charges: theft by receiving stolen property; Georgia DNR charges: hunting without a license, hunting without a big game license, hunting without obtaining a harvest permit, hunting without taking a hunter safety course, failure to report and record big game and birds.

▲ Richard William Wilkerson, 20, of Screven County — Bulloch County and Georgia DNR charges are pending, as the suspect remains at large.

▲ Devin Alexander Howell, 19, of Portal — Bulloch County charges: two counts of felony theft by receiving stolen property.

▲ Jerry Foster Morris Jr., 40, of Portal — Bulloch County charges are pending, as the suspect remains at large.

▲ Ronald Bazemore, 31, of Bulloch County — Jenkins County charges: theft by receiving stolen property.

 

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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