Georgia has seen a number of what could be considered "heinous" crimes throughout the years pass through the area's courtrooms.
The details in each of the crimes on their own are definitely gut-wrenching, but when taken together, they are simply heartbreaking. Most of these tales could be looked at as the stuff of murder novels or motion picture thrillers, but they are real-life tales of life gone awry.
Some are cold cases, while several of them are still working their way through the state's judicial system.
The dragging murder that took 35 years to solve
The unsolved 1983 murder of a 23-year-old black man in Spalding County remained dead until modern DNA evidence pointed to the culprit in 2018.
On October 5, 1983, the body of Timothy Coggins was found near the town of Sunny Side, which is near Griffin. He had been beaten, stabbed and dragged behind a vehicle before being left for dead.
Though the murder remained a cold case for many years, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reopened the case in 2017 after receiving new leads. After arresting five people, they charged two people -- Frankie Gebhardt, 59, and 58-year-old Bill Moore, Sr. with murder. Milner Police officer Lamar Bunn, his mother Sandra Bunn and Spalding County Detention Officer Gregory Huffman were each charged with obstruction in the case.
Initially, less than half of the potential jurors showed up for jury selection in the murder case, causing the judge to threaten to send deputies to physically pull them off the streets in order to compel them to appear for jury duty.
After the contentious trial, Gebhardt was convicted on five counts of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another. He received a sentence of life in prison plus 30 years to serve concurrently.
- Jury selection in nearly 35-year-old cold case murder trial gets underway Monday
- Less than half of potential jurors show up for jury selection in cold case murder trial
- Despite earlier issues with no-shows, judge able to seat jury in cold case murder trial
- Cold case judge catches witness watching trial online, says go to jail!
- Fate of defendant in Spalding Co. murder case in jury's hands
The 10-year-old girl who was starved to death, then burned
It was the case that brought hardened officers and rescue personnel to tears.
Police found the emaciated and burned body of 10-year-old Emani Moss stuffed in a trash bag at a Gwinnett County apartment complex in 2013.
Officers eventually arrested her father, Eman Moss and stepmother Tiffany Moss, charging them both with child abuse and murder. Investigators said the child had literally been starved to death and the couple had set the body on fire, in an effort to cover evidence of their abuse.
Tiffany Moss refused a plea deal and is headed to court on six counts of murder and concealing a death, as well as felony murder and first-degree cruelty to children. She faces the death penalty if convicted.
She is representing herself in court, though court officials have repeatedly tried to get her to accept a court-appointed counselor to assist in her defense.
Did Ross Harris leave his son to die in a sweltering car on purpose?
Justin Ross Harris left his young son Cooper in the back seat of his car in a Vinings parking lot all day long in June, 2014.
After a jury could not be seated in Cobb County, the case was moved to Brunswick, Ga., in the far southern part of the state.
In a contentious trial, friends and family members testified that Harris was a devoted and loving father. The jury was shown video clips of Harris trying to teach the youngster to say 'banana' and letting the boy strum his guitar.
Harris' ex-wife, Leanna Taylor, also called him a loving father who loved his son deeply. She said he would have never intentionally have harmed him in any way. However, during her testimony, Taylor said that Harris 'destroyed my life.'
Prosecutors said Harris deliberately left the boy in the car, and told others he wanted to live a "child-free" life.
The trial also included sordid details of Harris exchanging sex chats with teenagers and surveillance video that pointed out that Harris had to have known that his son was in the rear seat, Harris was convicted on all charges, including two counts of felony murder, one count of malice murder, two counts of cruelty to children, one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony and two counts of dissemination of pornography to minors.
Harris is serving a mandatory life term without possibility of parole.
Police - He took a cupcake; they beat him to death with a baseball bat
Two sisters accused of beating a 3-year-old to death after he took a cupcake from the kitchen are set to go on trial later in 2019.
Glenndria Morris and LaShirley Morris are each charged with two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault and two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree in the death of Kejuan Mason.
The boy had bruises all over his body, including his legs, back, chest, buttocks, arm, and head, according to the Fulton County District Attorney's Office.
Police arrested Glenddria Morrris and her sister, LaShirley. According to the indictment, LaShirley repeatedly struck the 3-year-old with a baseball bat while Glenndria spanked him on his bottom for taking a cupcake from the kitchen.
The murder of the incoming DeKalb County sheriff
On the evening of December 15, 2000, Captain Derwin Brown arrived at his Decatur home from a party celebrating his graduation from a sheriff's training academy. Just a month before, Brown had defeated incumbent DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey in a contentious election.
Brown promised to clean up corruption in the Sheriff's Office and had already informed 38 employees they would be fired when he took office on January 1.
Brown's wife Phyllis and their five children arrived at the home separately and were inside the house when they heard shots outside. They found the sheriff-elect laying in a pool of blood in his driveway.
Dorsey, who was already under investigation for allegedly using on-duty deputies to work for his private security company as well as allowing DeKalb County jail inmates work in a home repair program run by his wife, then-Atlanta City Councilwoman Sherry Dorsey, confessed in 2007 to orchestrating the assassination of Brown. Dorsey is currently in state prison serving a sentence of life without parole.
Sadly, Brown's widow never saw the conviction of her husband's murderer. She died following a stroke in December, 2006.
A number of documentaries have chronicled the story of the murder of Derwin Brown, and the newest police precinct in DeKalb County was named for Brown, when it opened in June 2013.
Teens were both 14 when they died two years apart, and buried in the backyard
Mary and Elwyn Crocker were each 14 when they died, according to investigators.
The bodies of the teens were found buried behind the family's home in Guyton, Ga., in December 2018.
A third child, an 11-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy, was alive, authorities said. He was found "laying on the bathroom floor of the master bedroom, covered up in a blanket," said Effingham County Sheriff's Office Detective Abby Brown in a March bond hearing. He allegedly told DFCS workers about the abuse inside the home.
Five family members, including the teens' father, Elwyn Crocker, Sr., and their stepmother, Candice Crocker have been charged with felony murder, child cruelty and other crimes, according to the Associated Press.
Other suspects include Kimberly Wright, Candice's mother, her boyfriend, Roy Prayer and the children's step-uncle Mark Anthony Wright. All five have entered not guilty pleas, according to WSAV-TV.
Investigators said Elwyn Crocker, Sr., admitted to keeping Mary in a dog cage naked, using zip-ties so she would not get out. According to investigators, she had been tased, starved and beaten for stealing food.
Both children had been withdrawn from local schools, according to Effingham County School District officials.
The case remains pending in an Effingham County court.
The brutal case of the Twisted Twins
Identical twins Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead share everything - birthdays, clothing, even DNA. They also share a very dark past. They admitted to killing their mother after lying for months to cover the crime up.
The girls claimed they had come home in 2010 and found their mother dead.
And at first, law enforcement believed the story. They though the two 16-year-olds had just stumbled upon the gruesome scene.
"It was the bloodiest scene I think I've ever been to," said Lt. Chris Moon of the Conyers Police Department.
The trail of lies began to unravel over time, when evidence that they had tried to clean up the gruesome scene before realizing it was too much. Detectives smelled bleach in the carpet, found bloody clothes in the wash and found other clothes the twins had thrown away.
Over time, and after further investigation, the twins finally broke down and confessed to the murder in chilling detail. It started with a fight with their mother in the kitchen after waking up late for school.
"You're late for school, you're not going to do what you want to do, you have to live by my rules," recalled Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read.
The twins said their mother began threatening them with a pot from the stove. "She just started waving the pot around things like that whatever so I guess she was trying to hit us with the pot," said Jasmiyah. The twins claim they wrestled the pot away from her, but it was the start of an all-out brawl.
Read the full investigation: /article/news/local/twisted-twins-teen-sisters-confess-to-killing-mother/85-121479183
The unseen footage
- Dig deeper into extra resources on 11Alive award-winning series on the twins.
- Extended video of interrogation room: Watch as Tas and Jas are asked about what happened
- Extended video of teens in back of cop car: Listen as the teens talk after being arrested, not knowing police mic'd the car
- Watch: Extended look at Jasmiyah's confession
- Watch: Extended look at Tasmiyah's confession
- Transcripts: Read what was said in the interrogation room, the back of the cop car, and when each twin finally admitted to killing their mom