Sheriff Jarrard thanks public for help in identifying murder victim

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. –Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard thanked the public for helping to identify the woman who left the Rainbow Family of Living Light gathering with John Bryan Capstraw and hitchhiked to Kentucky before being murdered there.

Jarrard reached out for the public’s help in a Facebook post over the weekend after learning from the Elizabethtown (Ky.) Police Department that she had been murdered.

“I would like to take this opportunity and thank everyone with the overwhelming response about the identity of the female victim involved in the murder in Kentucky,” Jarrard said.  “The victim has been identified. The response with Social Media was instrumental in getting the word out and I thank all that contacted me with information. At this time, we cannot release the identity of the female victim until we receive further notification from Elizabethtown (Ky.) Police Department.”

An investigator with the Elizabethtown Police Department said Capstraw, 20, admitted to killing the woman and has been charged with murder.

Capstraw told police he and the woman left the event and hitchhiked northward. An ABC affiliate in Elizabethtown reported Capstraw told police he blacked out and when he awoke the woman was dead and he had injuries to his hands.

 

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Woman murdered after leaving Rainbow gathering

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ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. — Authorities in Elizabethtown have arrested a Florida man they say met an unidentified woman at the Rainbow Family of Living Light Gathering in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Lumpkin County then hitchhiked to Kentucky together where he beat and stabbed her to death.

WHAS Channel 11 TV, an ABC affiliate, is reporting tonight that Joseph Bryan Capstraw, 20, has admitted to killing the woman during a blackout and he has been charged with one count of murder.

Authorities with the Elizabethtown Police Department say while investigating a call of a suspicious person, officers located Capstraw who said he needed a hospital and that he “killed her.”

Officers report Capstraw then took them to the body of the female victim.

According to reports, it is believed Capstraw was in a verbal altercation with the woman when he blacked out. Capstraw then allegedly observed the woman, beaten badly, and that he had multiple injuries on his hands.

This marks the second time in three years, a supposedly peaceful gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light resulted in the death of a participant.

In March 2015, a gathering in the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida ended in gunfire when 39-year-old Clark Mayers of Milledgeville shot 24-year-old Wesley Jones three times. Jones survived the shooting but was paralyzed and when Jacob Cardwell of Arizona attempted to calm Mayers, he was shot twice and killed.

Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard issued the following press release tonight:

“The Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office is requesting assistance in determining the identification of a homicide victim. On July 7, the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Elizabethtown, Ky. Police Department. They advised they had in their custody a 20-year-old white male (See booking photo) Joseph Bryan Capstraw who is charged with the murder of an unidentified female he says he met at the Rainbow Family of Living Light here in Lumpkin County.

“Please, I ask if you have any information about the female that accompanied Joseph Bryan Capstraw as they were hitchhiking from the Rainbow Family of Living Light, please contact the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office so we can help this victim be identified and help her be returned to her loved ones. Please pray for the family of the victim.”

To provide information, please call 706-864-0414.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rainbows stage protest before leaving Dahlonega

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Thousands of “Rainbows” left Lumpkin County over the weekend but not before staging a protest against what they believe was harassment by federal, state and local law enforcement.

Some 70-80 protesters who participated in the Family of Living Light gathering in the Chattahoochee National Forest lined the sidewalk across from the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office Sunday, singing songs and carrying protest signs demanding their fellow “Rainbows” be released from jail.

Local activist Frank Gilkeson, who joined the protest, said, “They’re protesting the fact that the local sheriff has incarcerated a whole bunch of people for a various assortment of crimes. We don’t know when these cases will come up and these people live all over the country. Their cases need to be expedited.”

Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said releasing those in jail is as simple as paying the bond.

Steven Gilley, of Anniston Alabama, complained that he had been stopped multiple times by the authorities who searched his car for drugs.

“The first time, the Forest Service and state police stopped me for over two hours and had a dog running around searching my vehicle,” he said. “I told them there ain’t no drugs. They took everything out of my van and left it piled up on the road. They took my pipe and an open liquor bottle I had from New Orleans and gave me a citation on Friday. I forgot it was there. If I knew it was there, I’d have drunk it.”

Gilley said he paid his fine last Monday and, as he was leaving court, he was ticketed for an expired tag and no insurance.

The U.S. Forest Service estimates approximately 4,500 Rainbow Family members attended the gathering this year. Spokeswoman Cathy Dowd told WSB TV that overall things went well this year, although 30 people were arrested and approximately 900 citations were issued during the event.

The Rainbow Family began gathering in 1972. The movement is reminiscent of the counterculture, hippie movement sparked by protests of the Viet Nam war. It is billed as a peaceful gathering, but twice in the last three years, violence has ended in death to a participant.

In March 2015, a gathering in the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida ended in gunfire when 39-year-old Clark Mayers of Milledgeville shot 24-year-old Wesley Jones three times. Jones survived the shooting but was paralyzed and when Jacob Cardwell of Arizona attempted to calm Mayers, he was shot twice and killed.

On Saturday, Elizabethtown (Kentucky) Police Department arrested Joseph Bryan Capstraw who admitted to murdering an unidentified woman after the two left the Rainbow Family gathering hitchhiking to Kentucky.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

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UPDATE: Escaped inmate recaptured near Johnson St.

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The inmate who escaped from the Lumpkin County Detention Center this afternoon has been captured.

Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard reports that James Dowd, Jr., who is charged with fraud, escaped around 4 p.m. from the sally port area of the detention center by pushing away from the guard and running into a kudzu patch behind the jail.

Jarrard said a helicopter and canine unit were used in the search. “He tried to steal a phone from a pedestrian on Johnson Street,” Jarrard said.

He was captured at approximately 5 p.m., about one hour after he escaped.

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UPDATE: Escaped Lumpkin County inmate identified

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said an inmate who had just been brought to the Lumpkin County Detention Center pushed guards away and escaped from the sally port area of the Detention Center as he was being processed today (June 29) at approximately 4 p.m.

The inmate has been identified as James Dowd Jr. of Dahlonega, who is charged with fraud. Jarrard said Dowd does not have a history of violence. He was wearing handcuffs and an orange jump suit.

Jarrard asks that residents secure their homes and while the search continues and if you spot any suspicious activity to call 911.

Fetch Your News will have additional details as they become available.

 

 

 

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Rainbow Family Gathering peaceful so far

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said Tuesday the Rainbow Family Gathering in the Niblewill area of the Chattahoochee National Forest just north of Dahlonega has been fairly non-eventful.

The “family,” which has been described as a loosely-organized group of hippies, nudists and itinerants that grew out of the anti-war, counter-culture movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, meets annually at a different national forest to “promote world peace, love and healing.”

In the past a small segment of the family has caused significant negative impact on nearby communities. In 2014 during a gathering in the Wasatch Mountain Range in Utah, a man was stabbed and a woman was found dead.

Several hundred family members have arrived so far and before the event concludes on July 5, up to 10,000 are expected.

“There really hasn’t been a lot of trouble,” Jarrard said. “I hope it will come and go without any trouble. Any time you have a large event like this that a lot of people attend, no matter which group it is, there can always be a small percentage that wants to cause trouble.”

While the sheriff is hoping for the best, he is prepared for the worst.

On Monday, he swore in 30 U.S. Forest Service employees which expanded their jurisdiction from the national forest to all of Lumpkin County. Georgia State Patrol, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Corrections and several cities and counties have sent deputies to help keep the peace. Forsyth County has sent as many as 25 deputies.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Shooter, victims in Thursday murder-suicide identified

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Kelley James McDonald Jr.

DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Kelley James McDonald Jr., 39, a fugitive wanted in Florida for multiple counts of domestic abuse, has been identified as the shooter in Thursday’s murder-suicide that took the lives of three adults and sent one unidentified teenager to the hospital.

The deceased have been identified as McDonald, his ex-wife Kelly Garrison, and her sister Tracy Runnels.  An unidentfied 16-year-old female also suffered a gunshot wound and was transported to an Atlanta-area hospital where she underwent surgery Thursday. Her injury is not believed to be life-threatening.

A 13-year-old female and a 2-year old female suffered only minor scratches in the incident but did not need to be transported to the hospital. Authorities declined to identify them because of their age.

At approximately 8:20 a.m. Thursday, Lumpkin County deputies responded to a “shots fired” call. Upon entering the residence, they found Runnels’ body and the 16-year-old female, who had been shot, in the upstairs portion of the home. As they began to clear that floor, they heard three more shots coming from a lower floor.

Downstairs, they discovered the bodies of McDonald and Garrison.

During a Thursday press conference, Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said it appears the incident started as a domestic incident in Florida and that Garrison fled the state to come to Lumpkin County to hide at her sister’s home.

Authorities do not know how McDonald made his way to Lumpkin County. There was a report that an unidentified Ford Explorer SUV was seen leaving the vicinity around the time of the shooting.

However, it now appears that vehicle did not play a part in the incident. There is some construction work going on in the area, and it looks like the SUV was in the area to drop off one of the workers.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

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Lumpkin County School Board tackles school safety

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. – In the aftermath of the shooting that killed 17 students and faculty in Parkland, Florida, and threats to “shoot up” schools in White, Dawson, Hall, Forsyth and Gwinnett counties last week, an anxious community filled the meeting room at the Lumpkin County School Board office Wednesday to discuss the only item on the agenda: school safety.

School Superintendent Dr. Rob Brown opened the meeting by saying, “School safety is the first consideration in every decision we make. We want to have an open conversation to include thoughts and ideas from everyone.”

In the two hours that followed, parents, teachers, law enforcement officials, school counselors, social workers and representatives of city and county government participated in a free-wheeling, constructive dialogue. The overwhelming sense of purpose that filled the room was “not-in-my-schools.”

Ideas that were explored included installing additional video monitors and metal detectors, locking all doors and having one single entry point, manned guard shacks at all schools as a first-line of defense and being more diligent about getting troubled kids help or getting them out of school.

Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said, “Every measure you put in place is a good measure. The more stringent they are the better.”

Georgia Mountain Education Charter High School Assistant Superintendent Tracy Sanford said, “There is no foolproof plan.” However, he cautioned school officials not to limit their attention to guns. He pointed out that the shooters who killed 13 people and injured 20 others at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 intended to use a bomb to blow up the school. He said the next tragedy could be a truckload of fertilizer driving into a school building.

Sheriff Stacy Jarrard discusses security at Lumpkin County Schools during the Board of Education meeting.

Sanford praised the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office: “As you all know, I work with 15 counties and their SROs (school resource officers). I guarantee this is by far the best and easiest to work with in north Georgia.”

Arming teachers is an issue that has sparked heated debate at the national level. Four of five Lumpkin County School Board members said they are open to the idea if a teacher is willing and has extensive firearms training. Only Craig Poore did not support the idea.

Brown said mental health issues have been at the root of many of the active shooter incidents the nation has experienced over the last couple of decades.

He said the school staff has been proactive in trying to address that issue. “Our social worker and school counselors have been offering a Parent Education Night since last spring to address an issue that is very, very important when we talk about school safety,” Brown stated.

Brown commended school social worker Joni McElwaney.  “She works directly with families to ensure they know what community resources are available to them. She is usually the first one our administrators contact when they know there is an issue with a child, especially if there is a mental health concern,” the superintendent added.

The school board is expected to review the ideas presented and begin to implement some, or all, of them as soon as possible.

Another recommendation was that schools become more diligent in getting rid of students who cause trouble. Board member Mera Turner said state law makes that issue extremely difficult for educators to address. State law requires that every student be given a public school education until they reach the age of 18, or 21 if they are in a special education program.

 

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

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