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Former Raiders in prime time
Well, let's see here: On one coast of our nation during this
past week we had a former Raider out of the class of 1997 playing
against the likes of Tiger Woods and Fred Couples in one of the
most important golf...
Madison County's Jedd McLuen competes in U.S. Open but
fails to make cut
The shots didn't quite fall as he might have planned and he didn't
advance to the weekend rounds of play, but if you ask Colbert's
Lula to be tough on water violators
Lula city water customers caught violating outdoor watering restrictions
three times will face disconnection...
$681,500 in construction permitted by Commerce in May
The city of Commerce issued nine building permits during May
for construction valued at $681,500, according to a report...
The Madison County Journal
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in brutal murder of Colbert man
An arrest has been made in the murder of a Colbert man, who was
found Monday encased in cement in Oglethorpe County with a gunshot
wound to the head and multiple stab wounds.
Tracy Lea Fortson, 35, Winterville, turned herself in Wednesday
and was charged with the murder of 38-year-old Douglas Benton.
She is scheduled for a bond hearing sometime Thursday in Madison
Fortson, a former Oglethrope County Sheriff's deputy, was Benton's
girlfriend until the couple split nearly three weeks ago. A warrant
was issued for her arrest after a search of Benton's John Sharp
Road, Colbert, home turned up evidence Benton had been murdered
Investigations continued Friday into the murder of Colbert's
Douglas Benton, who was found Monday encased in a cement-filled
water trough in Oglethorpe County.
Tracy Lea Fortson has been charged with the murder of her ex-boyfriend,
but as of Friday afternoon no one else had been implicated as
Madison County Sheriff's Department Captain Bill Strickland said
investigators know where the alleged murderer got the cement
to encase Benton, though he would not say where. He said the
source of the cement is one focus of investigators today.
Georgia Bureau of Investigations agent Bill Malueg said the GBI
has not recovered a murder weapon. Fortson allegedly shot Benton
in the head and stabbed him before encassing him in cement. The
GBI searched Fortson's home this week, finding evidence connecting
her to the crime, but Malueg would not specify what was found.
Malueg said Benton's truck was found at the home of Jerry Alexander
in Lexington with a note reading, "Take care of my truck...I'll
come back for it." Malueg said the note, which he described
as "short and cryptic," has not been scientifically
analyized, but it appears that it was not written by Benton.
"We suspect she (Fortson) wrote it," said Malueg, who
added that Fortson's truck was being searched today.
Malueg said he did not know if Fortson was involved with anyone
other than Benton.
He said Fortson was seen around the county in the time after
Malueg said Rodney Sturdivant, who owns the property where the
victim was found, is not a suspect in the case, though Strickland
said "everyone is still" under investigation, including
Sturdivant and Alexander.
Fortson, a former Oglethorpe County deputy, is being held in
Jackson County jail. Madison County Magistrate Judge Harry Rice
transferred her bond hearing to Superior Court Thursday.
According to Bill Malueg of the Georgia Bureau
of Investigation, investigators found blood in the residence
and determined someone had made attempts to clean up the murder
scene with kerosene. Fortson's home has also been searched, and
Malueg said they planned to search her vehicle, a pick-up truck,
No other arrests have been made in the case thus far, but more
could be forthcoming. Malueg would not say what type of gun was
used, but he did say that the weapon has not been recovered.
"We are working to determine if anyone else was involved,"
said Bill Malueg of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. "Some
feel she's capable of doing it herself, but I don't think she
Benton's body was found in a wooded area in Oglethorpe County's
Stephens Community by a caretaker for the property. Benton had
been last seen June 5.
Oglethorpe County sheriff Ray Sanders said Fortson was employed
by his department for about 18 months, resigning in February
of this year. He was reluctant to offer any more information
"She was a good employee and that's all I have to say,"
Benton's home is located at 118 John Sharp Road, which is a narrow
dirt path off Jack Sharp Road, located off Hwy. 72.
The victim's neighbor, Lisa Watson, called police June 17 to
report the self employed welder missing. She said she became
worried after he had been gone for about a week and no one had
been by to check on his exotic birds. Watson said Benton recently
began keeping exotic birds, such as Green Amazons and African
"I figured he had someone tending to his birds, but he didn't
come home for the weekend and when I paged him, he didn't answer,"
said Watson, who said that 12 of Benton's 50 birds died in his
Watson said Benton lived at his Colbert home for about four years.
She and her two daughters, Ashleigh, 15, and Autumn, 13, said
Benton was a kind man, willing to help others.
"He looked out for us and we looked out for him," said
She said Benton would check on her daughters when they were left
alone. And she said her husband, Larry, helped Benton build on
a weightlifting room in his house.
Apart from his welding job, Benton enjoyed lifting weights, taking
his boat out on a lake and riding motorcycles.
Ashleigh said her best memory of Benton is visiting with her
neighbor and his son. Benton had three children.
"When his son was over there we'd go and talk and joke around,"
Autumn said she loved Benton "like a brother."
"Anytime I had a boyfriend over I'd say 'don't mess with
me' or you'll have to deal with my brother (Benton)," said
Autumn said Benton seemed different, more reserved, when Fortson
"She tried to make him stop seeing all his friends,"
said Autumn. "She (Fortson) would say, 'Don't say hey to
her" when Autumn passed by.
The Watsons said Benton appeared to have a clean lifestyle, not
into drinking, smoking or drugs and never seeming violent.
"He never treated me any way but nice," Mrs. Watson
said. "He was a good father, friend and neighbor. He will
be greatly missed."
Thirty-three people made the trip to New York to support Jake
Westbrook Saturday in his Major League debut as a pitcher for
the New York Yankees. (Go
to recent story.)
Go to Madison
Public Meeting Dates
& Convenience Stores
up 3 percent
Madison County school superintendent Dennis Moore says that no
property tax increase is planned to support the Madison County
school system's fiscal year 2000-2001 budget, which is up approximately
three percent over last year's.
The Madison County Board of Education approved this year's budget
of $27.48 million Tuesday night. Last year's budget was $26.66
Like last year, the school system expects to draw in some $4.2
million in local taxes, with the bulk of revenues coming from
the state, approximately $18.6 million, up from $16.9 million
last year. Approximately $2 million in revenue will come from
the federal government.
The largest school system expense is for instruction, up almost
four percent to $16.5 million from $15.9 million last year.
School board confronted
on pay for some employees
A full house greeted the Madison County Board of Education Tuesday
night. Bus drivers, secretaries and school nurses confronted
the board with questions about pay raises. And the board agreed
to form a committee to address non-certified pay.
Bus drivers appeared for the second month in a row to discuss
inequities in their pay scale. Sue Logins, speaking for the group,
pointed out that the county's bus drivers are paid far less than
those in surrounding counties. She suggested that the shortage
of drivers is directly related to the pay scale. She and others
in the audience reminded the board that they had increased the
pay of substitute drivers at the last meeting so that they make
more than the full-time drivers.
Board member Elaine Belfield addressed the board on behalf of
the schools' secretaries. She noted the lack of credits for length
of employment, arguing that an employee with 31 years experience
should be receiving more than $10 above one with less than 20
The school nurses also objected to receiving pay under that of
surrounding counties. They agreed that uniform reporting needs
to be developed.
Superintendent Dennis Moore responded that all uncertified employees
of the BOE will receive a three percent increase plus a $300
raise in the new budget. School nurses will receive increases
of three percent plus $500. He agreed that pay scales were not
in line with other systems. He asked for patience, pointing out
that he has only been on the job for two years and it takes time
to address all the areas that have been neglected.Saying that
there should be some uniformity, Belfield made a motion that
two members of the board, a representative of each of the three
groups and Superintendent Moore form a committee to address noncertified
pay so that problems can be solved in a timely fashion. The committee
is to complete its work prior to planning for the 2001-2002 budget.
Belfield and chairman Jimmy Patton will represent the board.
against Red Sox
Madison County's Jake Westbrook made his second start for the
New York Yankees Thursday night in Fenway Park, giving up four
runs, six hits and two walks, while striking out one in two and
The Red Sox defeated the Yankees 4-2.
In his first start Saturday, Westbrook gave up six runs and seven
hits in one and two-thirds innings versus the Chicago White Sox.
He pitched two and one-third innings of scoreless relief against
the White Sox Sunday.