By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
While Bonnie Rushing lay dead on porch, deputies thought she’d been kidnapped
But Mayhew, now on trial for murder, was soon arrested in Florida driving her SUV, with gun linked to the shooting, items stolen from her home
Lt. Kirk McGlamery of the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office recounts his response and initial investigation to assistant district attorney Casey Blount as the first witness in the trial for Lee Allen Mayhew, who is accused murdering Bonnie Rushing in 2020,
Lt. Kirk McGlamery of the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office recounts his response and initial investigation to assistant district attorney Casey Blount as the first witness in the trial for Lee Allen Mayhew, who is accused murdering Bonnie Rushing in 2020, on Tuesday, Jan. 31. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

A Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant spent more than 40 minutes in and around Bonnie Lanier Rushing’s family home pursuing the suspicion that she’d been kidnapped, and meanwhile Lee Allen Mayhew was stopped by police in Florida driving Rushing’s stolen 2013 GMC Acadia before her husband found her dead on their front porch.

That tragic sequence of events from late on the afternoon on Oct. 23, 2020 was presented to the jury through Lt. Kirk McGlamery’s body-worn camera footage and testimony Jan. 31. It was the first day of the trial of Mayhew, 46, of Nashville, Tennessee, on an indictment that includes counts of malice murder and felony murder for Rushing’s death, plus aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during commission of felonies, theft by taking of a motor vehicle and four other counts of theft by taking, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and two counts of first-degree burglary.

“Ms. Bonnie Rushing was sitting at her house here  in Bulloch County on Oct.23, 2020, right around 1 o’clock in the afternoon, not bothering a soul in this world when that man sitting right there at that table put a bullet in her head and left her dead,” Ogeechee Circuit Assistant District Attorney Casey Blount said in his opening statement.

Speaking to the jury, he pointed at Mayhew, who as sitting at the witness table with his  two attorneys from the Ogeechee Circuit Public Defender’s Office.  As of Oct. 22, 2020, Mayhew had been “a fugitive on the run from the  U.S.  marshals out of Tennessee,” and had swapped license plates on his car and  ripped  out the Global Positioning System  unit, Blount  said.


‘Feds after me’

Around 10:30 a.m. the day before Rushing was killed, Mayhew was in Bulloch County and somehow got lost on  Emory “Chip” Godbee’s property,  off the far, unpaved end of Burkhalter Road near the Ogeechee  River, Blount  said.

Defendant Lee Allen Mayhew listens as the prosecution begins to present testimony and evidence in his trial on Tuesday, Jan. 31 for the murder of Bonnie Rushing in 2020.

Godbee testified later Tuesday  he had spoken to a man who was driving around on his land on private, farm roads. Godbee  got  on his golf cart and approached him. In an audio recording of his interview with investigators, Godbee said the man had stopped  in his car  and  said to him, ““How the hell do you get out of here? … The feds are after me and I’ve got a weapons violation.”

Godbee then used his iPhone to take a picture of the car as it quickly started  away. In his testimony, Godbee said he was trying to get a picture of the license plate, but the focus  was too blurry.

However, when Blount had the photo shown over the courtroom  audiovisual system, it turned  out to be a one-second video of the car driving away, and he was  able to enlarge the license  plate so that it could be read.

It was the same license plate on apparently the same car found  abandoned  under a carport at the home of William and Tamela Sanford on Old  River Road later that day. The home had been burglarized, as Tamela Sanford and BCSO Investigator Prethenia Cone  testified in detail.



Guns  stolen

Among the items the Sanfords reported stolen were three guns:  a Ruger SP101 .357 revolver, a Rowdy two-shot .410 derringer-type pistol and a Remington bolt-action 7mm-08 rifle, all identified by serial number.

During Cone’s testimony, pictures of several documents with Mayhew’s name on them and a photo  of him  with woman, all found in the car abandoned at the Sanford  residence, were projected on the screen for the jury.

The  Sanfords  also  reported a golf cart  stolen from outside their home.

“Now they know they’ve got a guy on a golf cart in the area, with stolen guns, who’s wanted on a weapons charge out  of Nashville, somewhere in the area on the loose,” Blount said.

The sheriff’s office had most of its officers involved in the search, including a canine unit, and was assisted by a Georgia  State Patrol with a helicopter. The sheriff’s office also posted a “code red” notice to subscribers’ phones and issued a press release that evening, Oct. 22.

After hiding out overnight, Mayhew  approached the Rushings’  home the next morning in search of a vehicle that would take him to Florida, Blount  asserted.

Mayhew at arraignment  had pleaded not guilty to all charges. But  in her opening statement for him Tuesday, Ogeechee Circuit Public Defender Renata Newbill-Jallow acknowledged that Mayhew committed most of the other crimes in the indictment – but not murder.

Superior Court Judge Lovett Bennett, Jr. watches the body cam footage of Lt. Kirk McGlamery of the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office from his response and investigation on the day of the incident in question as the trial for Lee Allen Mayhew, who is accused murdering Bonnie Rushing in 2020, gets underway on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

“Did Mr. Mayhew commit crimes on Oct. 22 and 23? Yes,” she said.  “Did he enter Mr. Sanford’s  house and take guns? Yes.  Did he take his golf cart? Yes. Did  he steal Bonnie Rushing’s car and  travel to Florida? Yes, he did. But did  he commit malice murder or felony murder? No. The state will not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed malice murder or felony murder.”

She also acknowledged that  Mayhew was on the run and had said so to Godbee, but  noted that Godbee had also told investigators – as borne out later during testimony –that Mayhew never threatened him and said he wasn’t going to harm him.


First on the scene

When Blount called McGlamery as the first prosecution witness, he testified to having arrived on the  scene around 6:05 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2020, in response to what Mike Rushing first  reported as a burglary.

McGlamery turned from Stilson-Leefield Road into a dirt driveway between the house and detached shelter. That was the same way the Rushings regularly drove in, parking in back. Mike Rushing reported that he had found the storm door inside the carport closed but the back door inside it open, which he said was unusual. Both his wife and her vehicle were  gone.

He and McGlamery went in that back door and saw, as Rushing had already seen, that Bonnie Rushing’s Bible, usually on the end  of a kitchen counter, was on the floor, and the Rushings’ then-teenage son’s laptop computer was missing. A couch in the living  room was turned over, items were scattered and drawers were  left open in other rooms.

Within minutes of arriving, McGlamery had tried calling Bonnie Rushing’s cellphone repeatedly, then called Bulloch 911 and had them “ping” the phone’s location, which showed up as an address within a mile of the home. Recovered down a farm lane, it was shown to have been used for calls to Mayhew’s mother and a friend of his in Nashville, GBI Special Agent Tracy Sands testified later Tuesday.

While at the scene before Rushing’s  body  was  found, McGlamery  provided information to an investigator who called OnStar for GPS tracking of the Acadia.

Blount introduced a series of photos that  McGlamery had taken of the scene introduced into evidence, stopping short of the  one that showed Bonnie Rushing’s body on the front porch, so that some  members of her  family could leave the courtroom before  this was shown to the jury.


Bodycam footage

But it was Newbill-Jallow who had most of the 53 minutes of McGlamery’s  bodycam recording shown to the jury, over Blount’s objections that it included hearsay and speculation.

It showed that McGlamery and Mike Rushing had gone in and out of the back door  of the home more than once, and  searched  around  other sides of the home, but not the front. McGlamery also looked at evidence that a Ford F-350 truck at the shelter had been broken into and followed tracks of the Acadia along the edge of a field, while other investigators and people  arrived on the scene.

Meanwhile, he received a call that OnStar placed the Acadia traveling west on I-10 in Florida.

Mike Rushing, front, reflects with Rev. Chip Strickland of Brooklet United Methodist Church during a break after opening statements as the trial for Lee Allen Mayhew, who is accused murdering Rushing's wife Bonnie in 2020, gets underway on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

More than 40 minutes into the video, Mike Rushing, out of view, signaled for McGlamery to follow him, and they went to the front porch of the home, where Bonnie Rushing was lying  on her side in an expanse of blood.

“I regret that I did not go in and out that door,” Mike Rushing said later, when he testified .

McGlamery expressed similar regrets about not checking the front porch, but noted that he and other  investigators  first thought she  had been kidnapped, as also indicated in comments in the bodycam audio.

Testimony from the crime lab and from Florida law enforcement  officers is expected Wednesday.


Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter