Man murdered, body left in pickup truck

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August 28, 2006

Burke County authorities are looking for two more murder suspects.

Two men are already in jail charged with the crime.

The body was found Friday off Horseshoe Drive in Richmond County.

The victim--Curtis Howard Jr.-- was from Athens.

Law enforcement believes he was murdered in Burke County and then driven in his own truck to Augusta.

It was a busy weekend for law enforcement in several Georgia counties.

Authorities from Richmond and Burke County and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations are all working together on the case. In three days, two suspects are in jail and police are still looking for two others.

"This is our first murder this year for Burke County," said Capt. Frankie Parker.

And the Burke County Sheriff's Office is working hard to solve it.

Capt. Parker and his deputies have only slept eight hours since Friday.

"Any time we have a murder it becomes a top priority, and we work around the clock to get it solved," he said.

Michael Thomas was arrested Sunday. Michael Fields turned himself in the next day.

Two men found the body of 41-year-old Curtis Howard on Horseshoe Drive Friday afternoon. He had been dead for 24 hours.

Authorities believe it was a drug-related crime.

Investigators say they found two kilos of cocaine along with Howard's body in his truck.

"Richmond County says the guy brought the drugs to Burke County from Athens," Capt. Parker said.

Investigators say Howard arrived at Michael Fields' house on Salem Circle in Waynesboro around lunchtime on Thursday.

Capt. Parker says Howard was shot twice, sometime before 3 o'clock.

"We believe he was killed during that period of time and the body was moved at the same time," Capt. Parker said.

Howard's truck--with his body in the back--was driven 14 miles away.

Investigators are not sure why.

"We're wondering the same thing. Why did they go that far with the body? And this was during the daytime."

Police are still looking for two more suspects.

"This community is a small community, and they probably already know the other two. I ask if they know anything to call us or the GBI," Capt. Parker said.

Capt. Parker and his deputies believe one of those men is still in Burke County.

He also told News 12 there is a good chance a fifth person may have been involved.

The murder happened in the daytime. How did neighbors not hear anything?

Because the house is a good bit off of a dirt road, even though the crime happened in the daytime, it's possible neighbors didn't hear anything. Fields did live in the house with his girlfriend and two children, but they were probably not home at the time.

In a strange twist, Capt. Parker told News 12 this is the second murder at this residence. The first was years ago when someone else owned the house.