2006 quadruple murder victims

Evelyn Strickland, Marvelette Strickland, J'Lasia Stringer, 2, and J'Majuan Stringer, 4, were brutally murdered in Hoschton in 2006 by Marvelette's boyfriend and the children's father, Henry Stringer.

The execution of Donnie Lance on Jan. 29 may well be the last execution from Jackson County, at least for another generation or two.

Lance was the only person executed from a Jackson County conviction since 1935, an 85-year gap. In fact, the death penalty is uncommon in Northeast Georgia in general. Only two people from Northeast Georgia are currently on death row, one from Hall County and one from Elbert County.

In the Piedmont Judicial Circuit, which includes Jackson County, death penalty cases are extremely rare. Perhaps it's the cost in money and manpower, but local prosecutors seldom seek the death penalty here.

There are currently 25 people serving prison time in Georgia having been convicted of murder in Jackson County between 1982 and 2019. (Another person was convicted for manslaughter as an accessory to one of the murders. She has since been released from prison.)

Of those, one person was initially sentenced to death, but that was later commuted to a life sentence. Three other cases began as a death penalty trial, or were considered as death penalty cases. But prosecutors later agreed to plea deals for a life sentence. (These aren't all the murders that happened over the last 38 years. In some cases, the killer committed suicide. A few murders are unsolved. A couple of others are currently in the court system and not counted here.)

A review of those 25 murder case convictions since 1982 is chilling. Several were just as brutal as the Lance case. Why Lance got the death penalty and the others didn't is one of the issues with the death penalty in general; it's not always applied equally even in murders that are similar in brutality.

Those 25 murder convictions reflect the following:

• 15 people are serving life; 10 are serving life without parole.

• 15 of the cases involved domestic violence.

• 4 of the murders were stranger-to-stranger killings. One of those was of a police officer.

• 5 of the murder convictions involved two or more victims. One was a quadruple murder.

• A total of 31 people were murdered by the 25 people convicted.

• 9 people were injured, but not killed, in the 25 murder events.

• 23 of the murder convictions are men, 2 are women. A third woman was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in one of the murders (as an accessory to the crime) and has since been released from prison.

• 17 of those convicted are white, 6 are black, 1 is Hispanic, 1 is Asian.

• 7 of the murders happened in the Commerce area; 5 in the Jefferson area; 4 in the Braselton-Hoschton area; the others were scattered around the county.

Here's a rundown of all 25 people currently serving time in prison for a murder(s) they committed in Jackson County (in chronological order):

Name: Jerry H. Page

Year of Birth: 1949

Date of murder(s): 10-28-1982

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Was initially sentenced to death, but was later given life following a second trial.

Prison: Central State Prison

Summary of events: Page was convicted of killing his estranged-wife, Henrietta Page, and her sister, Dorothy Ann Howard, after he lost a court hearing over custody of his two young children. Page followed his wife, her sister, her nephew and his two children as they drove away from the courthouse following the hearing. When they stopped in a driveway on the Jefferson-Winder road to turn around, Page blocked their car with his vehicle, got out and shot all three adults as the two young children, ages one and three, watched. The 17-year-old nephew was seriously injured, but was able to drive back into downtown Jefferson where he stopped at a store to get help. Officers searched some swamps in the West Jackson area, but later found Page after a tip from his stepson, who had been in the car with Page and fled after the shooting. Page was convicted in April 1983 and sentenced to death. But in 1986, the Supreme Court of Georgia overturned the death sentence based on how the jury had worded its finding. He was sentenced to life in 1988.

•••

Name: Terry Warren

Year of Birth: 1958

Date of murder(s): 6-25-1985

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life

Prison: Macon State Prison

Summary of events: Warren, who was from Nicholson, and another inmate escaped from the Clarke County Correctional Institution on June 23, 1985. They apparently hung out at an abandoned house near Nicholson before breaking into the home of 80-year-old Elijah Buddy Johnson. Johnson was beaten to death and robbed.

•••

Name: Stanley McGuire

Year of Birth: 1967

Date of murder(s): 10-21-1992

Race/Gender: BM

Sentence: Life

Prison: Walker State Prison

Summary of events: McGuire was convicted for the drowning murder of Lillian Joe Starks of Winder. Starks' body was found bound and floating in a private pond off of W. H. Hayes Rd. on Oct. 31, 1992.

•••

Name: Scott Anthony Ramey

Year of Birth: 1968

Date of murder(s): 2-5-1995

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life

Prison: Johnson State Prison

Summary of events: Ramey had a history of domestic violence when on a Sunday night, he shot his way into a downtown Hoschton convenience store through a locked door. Carrying a rifle, Ramey then shot his estranged wife, Wanda Lee Ramey, and a man. W. Ramey was a clerk in the store. In the days leading up to the murder, W. Ramey had filed a number of police reports about her husband stalking her. She claimed at one point that S. Ramey was mentally ill. Because of her husband's threats, she had been escorted home from work by police the night before. That Sunday night, police were sitting in the parking lot of the store waiting on her to lock up so they could escort her home again, but S. Ramey drove up, got into the store and killed his wife before officers could stop him. They did shoot him in the hand as they went into the store to apprehend him. The man who was shot was taken to a hospital in serious condition. In previous court filings, W. Ramey said Scott had beaten her and burned her with a lighter. S. Ramey told officers he was "happy" following the murder, but wished he had also killed the officers waiting in the parking lot.

•••

Name: Jeffery Marques Colbert

Year of Birth: 1967

Date of murder(s): 12-11-1995

Race/Gender: BM

Sentence: Life

Prison: Riverbend Correctional Facility

Summary of events: Colbert had a criminal history, having served several years in jail for robbery and had been arrested for shooting someone in the leg prior to the 1995 murder. On a Monday morning, Colbert went to his wife's house in Jefferson and stabbed her to death with a butcher knife. Patricia Ann Colbert was stabbed multiple times and was pronounced dead at a local hospital. J. Colbert was soon arrested at his mother's house in Jefferson. He had left a letter at his mother's house about his intentions. He told police that "I was man enough to do it, I'll be man enough to take the punishment."

•••

Name: Bennie Frank Gay

Year of Birth: 1948

Date of murder(s): 2-20-1996

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life

Prison: Augusta State Medical Prison

Summary of events: Gay, a builder from Franklin County, was sentenced to life for having shot his ex-wife, Emily Fay Gay, also of Franklin County, to death as she drove down the Hwy. 441 bypass in Commerce. Gay reportedly pulled up beside E. Gay's van and shot her as she was driving, causing the vehicle to wreck. An 18-year-old woman in the vehicle was injured in the wreck. E. Gay was thrown from the van and was dead at the scene. B. Gay was later arrested in a phone booth in Marietta.

•••

Name: Emory Wayne Cochran

Year of Birth: 1948

Date of murder(s): 12-8-1998

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life without parole

Prison: Hancock State Prison

Summary of events: In a rare stranger-on-stranger murder, Cochran killed Kimberly K. Warren near her remote North Jackson home when she stumbled on Cochran and a Banks County woman burglarizing her home. Warren was found by a deputy in her car, which had gone down an embankment and into a creek off the dirt road leading to her and her husband's home. She had been shot. The murder shook the community and investigators, most of whom had not seen a previous stranger-on-stranger murder in the county. The Warrens had moved to the rural area from Gwinnett County two years prior to the murder to find "peace and quiet," Warren's husband said after the murder. K. Warren did pet photography and had become active in the county's efforts to start a humane society. Cochran, who had a long rap sheet dating back to 1970, was convicted of murder. While awaiting trial in 2000, he plotted with another inmate in Barrow County to get a gun, murder a policeman and escape. Officers found a loaded handgun in the county's law library that had been placed by a recently-released inmate, replaced it with a dummy gun and caught Cochran with it. The woman with Cochran the day of the murder, Sheryl Ann Gossitt, was convicted for voluntary manslaughter in the case and sentenced to 20 years in prison. She was released in 2018.

•••

Name: Kenneth Augustus Mills Jr.

Year of Birth: 1973

Date of murder(s): 8-12-2001

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life

Prison: Macon State Prison

Summary of events: In another stranger-on-stranger killing, Mills was convicted for killing Christopher Robertson in a road rage incident on I-85. Mills rammed Robertson's car, causing it to wreck, killing Robertson and injuring his wife and three children. Mills, from Riverdale, kept driving to South Carolina where he was arrested. The Robertson family was from Hampton.

•••

Name: Manuel Rosillo

Year of Birth: 1984

Date of murder(s): 9-29-2001

Race/Gender: HM

Sentence: Life

Prison: Washington State Prison

Summary of events: Rosillo was just 17 years old when he beat and shot 38-year-old Juana Gonzalez to death in a bedroom at his father's house on the Brockton Rd. near Jefferson. Rosillo also beat another woman in the house, causing serious injuries, and fired a gun at his father, who fled into nearby woods. An 8-year-old girl hid under the bed as Rosillo killed Gonzalez. A 4-year-old was in another room of the house. Rosillo, who apparently also lived at his father's house, fled the scene and was later captured in Clarke County. The motive for the murder was unclear; Rosillo said he was angry at his father because he wouldn't let him call his mother in California.

•••

Name: Frankie Bishop Burns

Year of Birth: 1958

Date of murder(s): 10-21-2001

Race/Gender: BM

Sentence: Life without parole

Prison: Augusta State Medical Prison

Summary of events: Burns shot and killed James Gregory Patrick in Patrick's car on Cedar Dr. near Commerce. Officers said the incident was drug related. A woman was tried as a co-defendant in the murder, but she was acquitted. Burns lost an appeal of his conviction in 2005.

•••

Name: James Willie Watkins

Year of Birth: 1975

Date of murder(s): 1-2-2002

Race/Gender: BM

Sentence: Life without parole

Prison: Valdosta State Prison

Summary of events: Watkins, from Franklin County, went to the Presto's convenience store in Commerce on a Saturday night to rob it. A clerk was on the phone with Laynette Fincher, the store's manager, when Watkins walked in. Watkins, who had just gotten out of prison on a previous burglary conviction, attempted to abduct the clerk, but Fincher, who heard the incident on the phone, drove into the store's parking lot as the abduction was taking place. The clerk escaped and ran back into the store, locking the door. Fincher attempted to back away from the scene in her car, but Watkins ran after the vehicle and fired multiple times into the car, killing Fincher. He was arrested in Franklin County about 18 hours after the murder.

•••

Name: Brian Gene Funderburk

Year of Birth: 1976

Date of murder(s): 2-15-2002

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life

Prison: Augusta State Medical Prison

Summary of events: Funderburk was convicted of murdering his ex-wife, Breanna Moses, at her home near Pendergrass. Funderburk then burned the house down. Funderburk had reportedly been abusive toward Moses for years prior to their divorce in 2000.

•••

Name: David Allen Hodges

Year of Birth: 1978

Date of murder(s): 2-8-2002

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life without parole

Prison: Telfair State Prison

Summary of events: Hodges was convicted in the double murder of Junior and Sherri Brady on Ethridge Rd. near Arcade. He had been a boarder in their residence after they noticed he was sleeping in his vehicle. They had met him at a restaurant. He had been working for them at their construction business for several weeks prior to the murders. Hodges fled and a nationwide search began. Some of the Brady's items were found in Alabama and Hodges called his grandparents from a Waffle House in Arizona, near the Mexico border. The case was featured on the TV show, America's Most Wanted. He was captured in July 2002 in Hayward, Calif. (The murders were the sixth and seventh in Jackson County during a seven-month period starting in August 2001.)

•••

Name: Billy Joe Grizzle

Year of Birth: 1968

Date of murder(s): 10-28-2004

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life without parole

Prison: Hays State Prison

Summary of events: Grizzle was convicted of murdering Rebecca Lynn Gooch at her home on Ednaville Rd. near Braselton. The two knew each other — possibly had had a relationship — and had a long-standing dispute, officials said at the time. Grizzle stabbed Gooch multiple times in front of her children ages 12 and two. He then bound the 12-year-old with duct tape and abducted her. He later drove back to the Gooch home where the 12-year-old managed to escape and get help. She led law officers to Grizzle's home in Hall County where he was arrested. Local prosecutors said initially they wanted to seek the death penalty in the case, but Grizzle pled guilty and got life without parole.

•••

Name: Richard Alexander Whitaker

Year of Birth: 1978

Date of murder(s): 12-29-2004

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life without parole

Prison: Smith State Prison

Summary of events: Whitaker, who was out of jail on an appeal bond, was chased by Pendergrass police after he refused to stop. The chase went around the North Jackson Area and Whitaker eventually wrecked on Hwy. 129 just outside Talmo. Pendergrass police officer Chris Ruse approached the wrecked vehicle when Whitaker climbed out of the car and shot Ruse, killing him. Whitaker and another man were on their way to commit a burglary at the time of the chase. Prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty in the murder, but later agreed to the life without parole plea deal, saying they didn't want to put the Ruse family through a trial ordeal. Later, information came out that a teenage girl, a PPD intern, was in Ruse's car at the time of the chase and murder.

•••

Name: Henry Lee Stringer

Year of Birth: 1972

Date of murder(s): 5-30-2006

Race/Gender: BM

Sentence: Life without parole

Prison: Macon State Prison

Summary of events: In one of the county's most brutal crimes, Stringer murdered four people, two of whom were his own young children. Stringer went to the Hoschton home of his ex-girlfriend, Marvelette Strickland, and stabbed her and her mother, Evelyn Strickland, to death. He then set fire to the house, killing his two children by Marvelette, J'Majuan, 4, and J'Lasia, 2. Officials found all four bodies when they responded to the fire. Officials at first thought Stringer was a victim in the house (he lived there and with his mother in Winder), but Stringer returned to the crime scene later the next morning. Officers asked him about the layout of the house and he cooperated until they asked him to take a polygraph test. It took a year to arrest Stringer, in part because he was hit by a train in Buford shortly after the murders and was in an Atlanta hospital recovering. Prosecutors at first sought the death penalty, but later agreed to a plea deal for life without parole.

•••

Name: Charles Thomas

Year of Birth: 1954

Date of murder(s): 7-29-2006

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life

Prison: Dooley State Prison

Summary of events: Thomas was convicted in a bench trial (no jury) of shooting his ex-wife, Annette Griffin, in the head as she sat in her car in her Commerce home's driveway. The two had divorced in 2005. Griffin said Thomas had been abusive toward her and that she was in fear for her health and safety during the divorce. Griffin lived for a week after being shot and died in an Atlanta hospital. She was alert when first discovered and was able to tell EMT personnel and neighbors who had shot her.

•••

Name: Martin Lewis Seymour

Year of Birth: 1977

Date of murder(s): 12-5-2008

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life

Prison: Calhoun State Prison

Summary of events: Seymour was convicted of murdering his wife, Jamie Sue Seymour around 3 a.m. on a Friday morning at their Commerce home. M. Seymour called his parents after the shooting to come get the couple's 3-year-old daughter, who slept through the shooting. He then called 911 after shooting his wife multiple times as she was sleeping on a sofa. He told 911 that he had killed his wife. He was waiting in the driveway with his cell phone when officers arrived. J. Seymour had apparently been planning to leave her husband the next day and go to another state with their daughter. He bought a gun the day before the shooting, apparently with the intent to kill her. Both were natives of nearby Madison County.

•••

Name: Robert Louis Clark Jr.

Year of Birth: 1953

Date of murder(s): 6-7-2009

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life without parole

Prison: Coastal State Prison

Summary of events: Clark was convicted of murdering his 6-year-old grandson, Michael Levigne, in a fit of rage after the child dropped a watermelon at his home in Commerce. Clark then shot his wife in the stomach and fired at police, who then shot Clark. Clark and his wife recovered from their wounds.

•••

Name: Marty Glenn Reeves

Year of Birth: 1966

Date of murder(s): 6-5-2013

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life without parole

Prison: Georgia State Prison

Summary of events: Reeves was convicted of shooting his wife, Andrea Reeves, and 13-year-old son, Austin Reeves, at their Jefferson home. He had confined a neighbor and her child in the house during the murders. He was found guilty, but mentally ill, and sentenced following a plea deal. He later sent threatening letters from prison to witnesses in the case.

•••

Name: Mou Moua

Year of Birth: 1974

Date of murder(s): 7-5-2013

Race/Gender: AM

Sentence: Life

Prison: Coffee Correctional Facility

Summary of events: Moua pled guilty to the shooting death of Larry Durham in Arcade. The two reportedly argued over a woman who was Moua's ex-girfriend. Moua fled to California where he admitted in a text message to the murder. Moua was arrested in California on rape charges and sent back to Georgia.

•••

Name: Jonathan Michael Smith

Year of Birth: 1979

Date of murder(s): 12-4-2013

Race/Gender: WM

Sentence: Life without parole

Prison: Macon State Prison

Summary of events: Smith was convicted of murdering his 16-year-old pregnant girlfriend, Cheyanne Nicole Hair, by beating her to death at their Jefferson home. He was also convicted of feticide. Smith had reportedly locked Hair in the house and wouldn't allow her to leave without him. Other women in court testimony said Smith had restrained, abused and raped them in the past. Smith lost on appeal in 2018.

•••

Name: Tina Marie Booth

Year of Birth: 1967

Date of murder(s): 12-7-16

Race/Gender: WF

Sentence: Life

Prison: Pulaski State Prison

Summary of events: Booth was convicted of murder in the death of her mother, Linda Cowart, in Commerce. Booth was a caretaker of her mother and apparently neglected her, leading to "homicide by neglect" as the cause of death.

•••

Name: Xavier Tyray Neal

Year of Birth: 1994

Date of murder(s): 12-5-2017

Race/Gender: BM

Sentence: Life

Prison: Georgia Diagnostics and Classification Prison

Summary of events: Neal was convicted for shooting and killing Scottie Dale Pressley at a home in Nicholson. Neal fled into nearby woods, but called police and told them where he was.

•••

Name: Monique Lynette Pinckney

Year of Birth: 1967

Date of murder(s): 5-8-2019

Race/Gender: WF

Sentence: Life

Prison: Pulaski State Prison

Summary of events: Pinckney was convicted for the beating death of James Patrick Pritchard Jr. of Colorado at her home in Braselton. Officers went to the house twice, the first time after the woman's daughter called and said her mother told her she had gotten into a fight with a man. Pinckney didn't respond to the door, so officers left. They went back after Pinckney called police to say a man was hurt in her house. Pritchard was found bleeding in a bathtub and later died at a hospital.

Mike Buffington is co-publisher of Mainstreet Newspapers. He can be reached at mike@mainstreetnews.com.

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