Dolly Hearn remembered as her killer pleads guilty

By: Domonique Benn
By: Domonique Benn

September 15, 2006

Dr. Barton Corbin has pled guilty to two murders.

Jury selection was underway for the case of the shooting death of his wife, Jennifer Corbin, in Gwinnett County.

But Dr. Corbin stopped it all by admitting he's guilty.

He told a judge he shot and killed his wife in 2004 and agreed to plead guilty in Augusta to shooting and killing dental student and his then-girlfriend "Dolly" Hearn back in 1990.

For the families, it is an emotional end to years of questions.

Corbin got a life sentence for the crimes, but the plea deal will make him eligible for parole.

It's also a shock for those who worked and studied with Dolly Hearn in Augusta.

Every year dolly Hearn's legacy lives on through a scholarship given to a rising senior at MCG's Dental School.

Now rumors about her death can finally be put to rest, as her former boyfriend pleads guilty to killing her 16 years ago.

Dolly Hearn was a rising senior at MCG's dental school. Professor Fred Rueggeberg has never forgotten her.

"She had quite a personality," he told News 12. "She made this place come alive. Quite honestly, there's been no one else like her."

Dr. Felix Maher says Dolly was a trusted professional and fellow classmate...one who new how to break the ice with her infectious laugh.

But Dolly's laugh fell silent 16 years ago when she was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head, the gun laying nearby.

Initially it was ruled a suicide.

Suspicion fell on Hearn's boyfriend Barton Corbin, but he was never charged.

"It was just a blow you never expected especially this girl," said Dr. Rueggeberg.

And the scene would play out again 14 years later, when Dr. Barton Corbin's wife Jennifer Corbin was found dead the same way Dolly Hearn was.

Jennifer's death was also initially ruled a suicide...until investigators took a closer look and compared the deaths.

Barton Corbin almost got away with murder...but Friday he pled guilty to both murders, allowing investigators to close their cases.

"Personally, I got goose bumps, and everyone I talked to who knew her have feelings of elation and sadness at the same time," Dr. Rueggeberg said.

"We know we will never hear her laugh again, see her, and we miss her," Dr. Maher said.

Each year, Dolly Hearn's family presents a $1000 scholarship award to a rising senior at the dental school.

The plea is also a relief to local law enforcement.

They never gave up on this case.

Very instrumental in getting the Dolly Hearn evidence included in the trial for Corbin's wife's murder was Lt. Scott Peebles. Lt. Peebles was one of the investigators on that case and was in Atlanta today as Barton Corbin pled guilty to both murders.

The DA in Gwinnett County revealed that what cemented the case was when investigators linked the gun used to kill Jennifer Corbin to Richard Wilson, a close friend of Barton Corbin's from Alabama.

The DA says Wilson verified he'd given Corbin the gun five days before the dentist's wife was found dead.


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