5 arrests made in 1983 ‘racially-motivated’ murder

SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. – Investigators said two men got away with murder for more than three decades thanks, in part, to help from two law enforcement officers.

The explosive news came in a news conference from the Spalding County sheriff Friday.

The death of Timothy Coggins was “no doubt” racially-motivated, according to sheriff Darrell Dix.

It was in 1983 that Coggins’ body was found abandoned near power lines on Manley Road.

According to the report, Coggins died of multiple forms of trauma. The sheriff said after an exhaustive investigation, the case went cold.

A new witness came forward earlier this year, which led to a re-examination of the case. Original witnesses were contacted and re-interviewed.

Channel 2 Action News learned that two of the five people implicated in the death of Coggins were acting in their official capacity when the crime happened. Dix said Milner Police Officer Lamar Bunn was charged with obstruction, and Spalding County Detention Officer Gregory Huffman was charged with violation of oath office.

Frankie Gebhardt, 59, and Bill Moore Sr., 58, were charged with felony murder.

Sandra Bunn, 58, was charged with obstruction.

“There is no doubt in the minds of all investigators involved that the crime was racially motivated, and if the crime happened today it would be prosecuted as a hate crime,” Dix said.

Coggins’ family thanked the current sheriff and the GBI for taking another look at this case.

“We know that there’s been tireless nights and we know that you guys have put in so many hours making sure that these people were brought to justice, so on behalf of them, we would definitely like to say ‘thank you,’” said Coggins’ niece, Heather Coggins. “The only unfortunate part in this is that our grandparents, Timothy Coggins’ parents, are not able to see this today.”

The sheriff said recent media coverage helped witnesses to come forward.

“Thanks to the assistance of both local and statewide new media coverage, previously unknown witnesses stepped forward and when interviewed, many of the witnesses stated that they had been living with this information since Coggins’ death but had been afraid to come forward until now or had not spoken of it until now,” Dix said.

The sheriff said the investigation is not over and that more arrests are expected.

Friends of the victims said they thought this day would never come.

“It worried everybody to death, but we never could find out what was going on, so life just continued to go on,” Alton McFarland said.

The Coggins’ family never gave up hope for justice.

“Even on my grandmother’s deathbed she knew that justice would one day be served,” said Heather Coggins. “So we are eternally grateful and we would like to say thank you.”

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7 Responses to 5 arrests made in 1983 ‘racially-motivated’ murder

  1. Liza says:

    I’m looking at the young man’s picture and thinking that the family didn’t even have a good picture of him. He probably never went to a photography studio and had a picture made.

    I’m glad someone finally came forward and started the process that revealed the killers and their enablers. I hope these people are convicted and go to prison so the family and the community can lay down this burden. It’s been a long time coming.

  2. rikyrah says:

    Put them UNDER the jail .
    There’s a reason why there’s no statute of limitations on murder.

    • majiir says:

      Since I’ve lived in GA my whole life and live about 50 miles from Griffin, GA, I cannot say that I don’t see how it was possible for these tools to escape justice for over 30 years after torturing and killing Timothy Coggins. This kind of thing has happened here in GA over and over again[and in other states,] and it has everything to do with living under a corrupt system. Others in Griffin knew what these cretins had done but were afraid to talk to law enforcement officials. This tells me their race and coming from a small town carried a whole lot of weight in helping them remain free as long as they have while Timothy Coggins lay buried in a casket six feet underground. It would not surprise me if these accused murderers, enablers, and their supporters describe themselves as “Conservative, God-fearing, Christians,” a label they adopt that has no relation to actually embracing and living true Christian values and principles. Rev. Dr. Barber was right when he blasted Trump and the other Values Votes attendees on AM Joy and said they’re not about Christianity, they’re about money and pushing their personal agendas, agendas that have nothing to do with Christianity. SMH.

      • Exactly Majiir. Escaped justice for over 30 years. Just unbelievable.

        Sheriff says more arrests are coming. How in the world with so many knowing who murdered Timothy Coggins remain silent for 30 years? Poor Timothy Coggins.

      • I’m wondering what happened that caused them to reopen the case?

      • Liza says:

        When they say that “a new witness” came forward after so many years,sometimes that means that someone is ready to clear their conscience. Someone who was afraid to talk is at a point where they are not afraid anymore.

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