January 10, 2021. At White Park, a family park just outside of Seven Roads Georgia. Named for the seven roads meeting in the middle of the town, the town name reminded one of its WWII Battle of the Bulge Veterans of Bastogne with seven roads in and out. Seven Roads was a small town tucked in the southwest corner of Georgia that very few people knew about.
The town of Seven Roads was not that big, about twenty square miles and a population of about 1000. It had the normal establishments, the Post Office, a General store, gas station and garage combined, a small meat shop, a diner, a barber shop kind of like the one on Andy Griffith. It also had of course the police department with the Chief and two Officers. The Mayor’s office was in the same building, but on the opposite side. There was a hotel that was walking distance to the west. It would be considered your average small town with one exception – it had not yet caught up with the times and looks like it really did not want to.
The hotel was still named the Seven Roads Rest Easy Inn and had 50 rooms. They never had that many to stay, but as the manager would always say, “Just in case.”
Walter Forbs drove into White Park at 7:00 am and parked his 1972 Gray Ford F150 Pickup truck. The odometer had rolled over at least three times already, but it was still a good truck. He kept up all the maintenance and was sure it had a lot more miles in it.
Walter grabbed his lunch, walked over to the huge maintenance building, and unlocked the door. He turned on the lights on his way to the kitchen where he put his lunch in the refrigerator, got the coffee going, and then headed out. He was the grounds keeper and general maintenance man. He like to get to work early to gather his tools for the day.
It was sunup, the sky was cloudy, the temperature cold and the weatherman was calling for rain. If it did rain, he would have to stay inside, and he really hated that. He got into the little golf cart that was used to get around the area and drove off.
In about fifteen minutes, he came to the open area with the benches and tables. Except for a few fallen branches, everything looked good. He would get those first.
As Walter passed the small playground, he saw someone sitting on one of the concrete benches. He drove over and saw that his head was down. Probably sleeping, he thought. He noticed he was wearing a long white overcoat, jeans, a hat pulled low, and his hands clasp together against his midsection. Walter tapped the horn on the cart, but the man had no reaction. He tapped it again. Still no movement. Walter began to get a little suspicious, so he slowly walked over. He stood in front of him for a moment and then said, “Hey mister, you okay.” Still no movement. He slowly put his hand on his shoulder and gave him a little shake. Walter was surprised when the man fell off the bench. “This man is dead,” Walter said. He got quickly back into his cart and with as much speed as the little cart could go, he went back to his office and called the police.
The Seven Roads Police Department was small with only a Chief and two officers. The Chief of Police was Albert Lawson, and today he was at his desk going over some reports from the previous two days when the call came into his desk. He answered.
“Seven Roads police department, Chief Lawson can I help you …. Well good morning there Walt, what can I do for you.”
Walt told him about the dead man.
“Got it, we are on the way.” He hung up the phone and called out, “Jacobs, call Holden and tell her to meet us at White Park. We got a body.”
Jacobs out in the other office answered, “Right behind you, boss.” He opened his desk drawer and retrieved his Glock-40 and put it into its holster. At the same time, Jessy Holden, or Jess, came in the door.
“Just turn around and follow me. Dead man at White Park.”
“What, so early, where’s the coffee, I need my coffee,” Jess growled as she spun back around.
Before he left for White Park Chief Lawson called dispatch and told them to get the M.E. out to White Park and to call for the crime scene investigators. He put his Crown Vic into gear and pulled out onto the main road.
The drive out took about ten minutes and as Lawson pulled in, he parked, got out and looked around. Officers Jacobs and Viny came in and parked next to him. They each carried their own bag of equipment and proceeded to mark off the area with the crime scene tape. Trace evidence is important, and Henry Jacobs hoped that whatever it was, nothing was disturbed.
Chief Lawson met Walter at the front of the maintenance building. “So where is our vic.”
“Come on, get in and I’ll drive you to him.” Walter said. The two raced off in the cart.
When they got close enough for Lawson to see the body, he told Walter to stop. He did and Lawson got out. He took the time to look the area over hoping to sort of get a feel for the situation.
“Walter, I need you to go back the way you came and get ready to bring the M.E. out. Then got back for the investigators.”
“Yes, sir Chief.” He headed back trying to stay on the pathway he came.
Lawson slowly walked over to the man looking for footprints and being very careful of where he put his feet. He did not want to disturb any evidence.
When he reached the man, he stood there and just looked around. He looked at where the man was sitting, according to Walter, and where the man lay on the ground. He looked for evidence of a struggle but found none. He looked for any signs of blood, but nothing. He looked for footprints around the bench and found several. There was a set that looked relatively fresh coming from the gravel parking area. He knew that if there were no signs of a struggle meant that the man was killed somewhere else and moved to the park bench. Why he wondered.
When Charles Mahoney, the M.E. arrived Walter brought him to where the body was.
“What have you got there, Chief,” Mahoney said as he came up to the scene.
For the past ten years Charles Mahoney was the M.E. for Rogers County which included Seven Roads.
“One male,” Chief Lawson said, “probably in his fifty’s, no wallet or I.D. There are no blood stains on the coat but there is on his shirt, no sign of a struggle. I did find this.”
He showed Mahoney the knife. “I Know I should have left it alone but …”
Mahoney took it and examined it. “Okay, so it’s a knife.”
The knife had an eight-inch blade with a slightly curved handle and blood on the blade.
“Yep, but a kitchen knife.” Lawson said as he watched Mahoney. “I found it sticking out of his chest just above his heart. I also found what I’m sure is a bullet hole, but no apparent GSR. And one more thing.” He pulled back the collar of the coat and revealed rope burns around the dead man’s neck.
“So, the guy was strangled with a rope, shot, then stabbed with a knife. This ought to be really interesting.” Mahoney laughed. “I’ll find out for sure what the cause of death when I get him back to the lab.”
Lawson looked up and over at officer Jacob’s and motioned for him to come to him.
Jacobs waved back and headed to him. “Yes boss, what’s up,” He said as he got close.
“Make sure you and Vinny check everything around here. If there is a shred of evidence, I want it. And make sure you get his fingerprints and the prints off the knife, then run em. I want to know who this guy is and why he is out here.”
“You got it Skipper.”