Good crime news from hard police work

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Frankie Gebhardt, 59, (upper left) and Bill Moore Sr., 58, (lower left) are charged with murder in the 1983 death of Timothy Coggins.

Georgia has its share of problems. Traffic, crime and rain currently top my list in the Atlanta area.

The sun will shine again, eventually, I figure, and traffic isn’t so bad if you start driving at 3 a.m.

Crime is trickier. It’s existed as long as people have complained about weather, but at least there’s something hard work can do about it.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation recently recognized some of its agents for investigative excellence who, in 2017, went the extra mile in their quest to get dangerous people off the street and behind bars.

Unlike most awards, winners of the GBI awards are not advertised. Why? Because the criminal cases are still underway. We’ll learn more when the cases go to trial.

Still, I managed to wheedle out a few details.

GBI Director Vernon Keenan awarded the 2017 Director’s Award to an agent in the Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit. Her two-year investigation led to the indictment of an individual stalking minors on social media and creating and distributing child pornography. At least 30 victims have been identified across the country and more are expected. Due to the age of the victims and the “sensitivity of the ongoing case,” more facts could not be shared, GBI spokesman Bahan Rich said.

There’s more info on the four Deputy Director awards.

  • Some cases take more than 30 years to crack. Five people were arrested in October in the 1983 killing of Timothy Coggins, a 23-year-old man found stabbed to death in the city of Sunny Side about 30 miles south of Atlanta. Prosecutors say the killers were angry with Coggins because he’d been dancing with a white woman at the People’s Choice Club in Griffin. Investigators said suspects “bragged about the crime for years.” Two charged in the killing worked in law enforcement. The initial investigation in 1983 hit a snag when suspects threatened and intimidated potential witnesses, said Spalding Sheriff Darrell Dix. The case was reopened after witnesses who had been “afraid” of testifying in 1983 came forward with new information.
  • After medical workers saved the life of two overdose victims, GBI and federal investigators worked for two years to crack a north Georgia heroin ring. Five Georgians believed responsible for “a significant heroin distribution network” were arrested, including Derrik Omar Frazier in Stone Mountain, who investigators say provided the drug to others who transported and sold it in north Georgia.
  • After the 2016 shooting death of a Georgia police officer, GBI agents worked with Eastman and Dodge County investigators to arrest Royheem Delshawn Deeds, who now faces the death penalty. Investigators say Eastman police officer Timothy Kevin Smith was answering a call about a man with a gun when he encountered Deeds, 24, who allegedly pulled a pistol and shot Smith in the chest. Smith, 30, later died. Deeds was arrested shortly after the shooting while hiding in the trunk of a car pulled over in Nassau County, Florida. He is charged with malice murder, two counts of felony murder, aggravated assault on a peace officer and possession of a firearm by a probationer.
  • GBI investigators say cargo thieves from Miami staked out a hydrocodone pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Charlotte, N.C., and followed a tractor-trailer full of pills to Cartersville. When the trucker stopped and went inside a store, the thieves stole his truck and trailer. They quickly abandoned the truck and attached the trailer to their own vehicle, but were spotted by a Georgia State Patrol trooper. Police managed to recover almost 9 million hydrocodone pills, but the suspects escaped. GBI agents from the agency’s Major Theft Unit found evidence in the abandoned truck linking it to Yosvani Cordero and Felipe Hurtado. Another suspect, Yoandy Linares-Mochado, was identified on store security video. The suspects were arrested, including Hurtado who was found in a marijuana grow-house with a large amount of weed, guns and money. The arrests “greatly contributed” to a 64 percent decline of cargo theft in Georgia in 2016, the GBI says. The three men face theft and other charges in Bartow County.

Sometimes, bad news seems to happen so often you just want to turn off the TV and put down the newspaper to make it all go away.

Fortunately, there are people working in law enforcement who know good news requires more effort than that.


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