9 Augusta murders so far in 2007

By: Lynnsey Gardner Email
By: Lynnsey Gardner Email

May 6, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---A man is in jail for murder in Augusta. Investigators say 54-year-old Richard Hatcher was arrested Saturday (May 5) for killing 56-year-old Joseph Brooks of Augusta.

Brooks was found unconscious outside a home on the 1700 block of Wrightsboro Rroad early Saturday morning. He was later pronounced dead at MCG.

So far, the investigation shows Hatcher struck Brooks one time in the head with a 2 by 4 during a dispute over money.

Brooks' murder adds to an alarming trend across the area. Homicides in Richmond County are on the rise.

This week alone saw three homicides in Richmond County, bringing the total for this year to ten. That number has doubled from this time last year.

Investigators say they don't know the reason for the increase, but they are doing everything they can to bring it under control.

"Murders are the one thing that we can't predict, so we just have to take it as it comes," said Lt. Scott Peebles. "Sometimes we get several months where we don't have one murder. It's been awhile since that's happened."

Richmond County's Major Case Squad handles murder investigations in the county. They are staying busy this year.

"It's a great thrill to bring closure to a case, but we always think about the ones that are still open that we haven't solved yet," Lt. Peebles said. "Those are the ones we stay awake thinking about at night."

The death of 21-year-old Robert Love is the only unsolved murder for the squad this year.

Love was shot and killed last Saturday (April 27) outside of his Washington Road apartment.

"You know, there's just not a lot for us to work with right now," Lt. Peebles said. "We do have a couple of leads, and we just hope they are going to pan out."

Lt. Peebles says he hopes the public will come forward and help them find Love's killer, much like they did in the case of Corey Joseph.

His murder went unsolved for nearly two months, until a tip led to an arrest and closure for his family.

Now investigators hope to be able to do the same for the family of Robert Love.

"We're going to do all we can to keep this in the public spotlight and try to get whoever has the information to solve this case to bring it to us," Lt. Peebles said.

Of the ten homicides so far this year, nine are considered murders. Lt. Peebles says the death of Errol Laver Royal will most likely be ruled a justifiable homicide because Royal was breaking into a home at the time he was shot. Homeowner Barre Bollinger is protected under the Stand Your Ground law in Georgia.

Investigators still need your help in the murder of Robert Love. If you have any information on the case, you are asked to call the Richmond County Sheriff's Office at 821-1020.

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