Local News

June 2, 2012

One victim stabbed, the other beaten to death

The wife of accused murderer Sonny Neal was stabbed and her grandfather was beaten, a senior officer with the sheriff’s office said on Friday.

Jessica B. Neal, 27, and her grandfather, Don William Shedd, 69, were found dead early on the morning of May 24 at their home on Green Springs Road in the Dawnville community. Adolph Ray “Sonny” Neal, 49, was charged with their murders on the same day and was captured Thursday in Varnell after eluding authorities for a week.

“Jessica was stabbed numerous times, which resulted in her death,” Capt. Rick Swiney said. “(Shedd) received blunt force trauma to the head. He was struck several times with an object around the head area that resulted in his death. Both weapons were recovered at the crime scene.”

Swiney said a knife was found that they believe to be the weapon used on Jessica Neal but he did not say what the other weapon was.

After a stay in Hamilton Medical Center Thursday night where he was treated for dehydration and “environmental injuries” caused by being outdoors for a week, Neal was taken to the jail on Friday around 1:30 p.m. and was interviewed by investigators with the sheriff’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Swiney said.

Asked if the interview was brief or extensive, he replied details were not being released.

‘Shifted the dynamics’

Neal was first spotted around mid-afternoon on Wednesday in Varnell near the intersection of Ga. Highways 2 and 201 by Dia and Gilbert Chastain. Up to 200 officers converged on the scene but Neal eluded them that afternoon and throughout the night. Dia Chastain told investigators she was certain it was Neal because she had tanned at the Neals’ tanning salon on Cleveland Highway.

Then on Thursday at 12:50 p.m., Zachary Wade saw Neal behind the Dollar General store in Varnell — where a massive command post was set up in the parking lot the day before — when Wade was riding in a car with his mother to go to the store. Officers had Neal in custody around 20 minutes after Wade called 911. Sheriff Scott Chitwood said Neal initially ran but then gave himself up without incident.

Greg Ramey, an agent with the GBI office in Calhoun, was asked if the “scaling back” of the law enforcement presence in Varnell on Thursday morning — compared with up to 200 officers on the scene Wednesday and 150 staying on duty through Wednesday night — was designed to make Neal believe the pressure was off.

“Part of the plan was to have a patrol up there and keep a little bit of pressure on him,” he said, “but we were hoping that he was going to start moving and that citizens would pick him out — and that’s exactly what happened.”

“Anybody that’s spent time outdoors knows the cover of darkness is the greatest time to move, and so we kept enough pressure on him at dark to keep him still, keep him from moving on us,” he detailed. “Then sure enough during the day — that’s when he had to move then, or felt like he needed to move.”

Ramey said he isn’t sure if Neal had a reason to be in the Varnell area.

“I still don’t know what his plan was, where he was ultimately trying to get to,” he said. “But I think we shifted the dynamics on him enough that he knew, ‘Oh man, I can’t move at night.’ You saw all the lights — that had to put a scare in him that he thought, ‘I have to lay down,’ and that’s exactly what we wanted. Because you know how hard it is to track somebody at night. Then you loosen it a little during the day, but you got more people out during the day that can see. And that’s exactly what happened. It was a good combination of having enough law enforcement there to help us do what we needed to do, plus citizens being on the lookout and media providing a description and updates.”

A Magistrate Court spokeswoman said on Friday that Neal’s “first appearance” for bond would be waived and he will go straight to a Superior Court bond hearing, a common procedure with serious crimes. District Attorney Bert Poston said Neal’s bond appearance in Superior Court will likely be on Tuesday.


Text Only
Local News
  • Four arrested on meth, marijuana charges

    A traffic stop of a suspicious vehicle led to the arrest of four people on meth charges and the seizure of more than four pounds of meth and several firearms on Wednesday, officials said.

    August 1, 2014

  • Dalton State turtle 4.jpg In the mood for love: Encouraging breeding, saving species

    For one Dalton State College couple, a cool misty shower is more effective than Barry White and candles at turning thoughts to love. And keeping this couple feeling amorous could mean survival of the species.

    August 1, 2014 4 Photos

  • Beaulieu expects 2,000 employees to be affected by week-long shutdown

    About 2,000 employees of Beaulieu of America in Georgia and Alabama will be affected by the company’s plans to conduct an inventory of its buildings and facilities next week.

    August 1, 2014

  • Moral monday 3 mlh.jpg Four ‘jailed for justice’ tell their stories

    Arturo Martinez was just 8 when his family came to the United States from Mexico, and though he is one of more than 500,000 young undocumented immigrants granted deferred removal by President Barack Obama, Martinez said his dream of pursuing higher education is out of reach because of Georgia policies.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tanner Blackton: Diners, servers must show understanding

    Try to imagine this: You’ve been on your feet for hours, hoisting heavy plates, buzzing from table to table, taking orders, running food, refilling drinks. All the while, you have a smile plastered on your face and a go-to attitude, even when people blame you for things that are out of your control, berate you for accidentally mixing up an order, or loudly complain about being seated underneath an air conditioning vent.

    August 1, 2014

  • Bugs and Kisses 1 mlh.jpg Local stores expect tax holiday to create lots of sales

    Local retailers say Georgia’s sales tax holiday weekends mean big business for them, and they are gearing up to capitalize on this year’s tax-free shopping on Friday and Saturday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Esme file mw 2.jpg Still fighting

    Ten-year-old Esme Miller was celebrated earlier this year for the way she’s handled a bout with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Historical photos of Murray County needed

    Maybe you have a photograph of a well-known preacher from the 1940s. Or maybe you have a photograph taken of a church choir from the 1920s.

    July 30, 2014

  • State DOT wants your input on transportation needs

    As state and national leaders consider alternatives for funding future transportation needs, the Georgia Department of Transportation wants to know what Georgians would like in their 21st century transportation system and how they recommend paying for it.

    July 30, 2014

  • Jail for Justice Tour event here tonight

    The Moral Monday Georgia Coalition, the NAACP-led multi-racial, multi-issue advocacy group, will host an event in partnership with the Georgia Dreamers Alliance, Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA), Whitfield NAACP and the Whitfield County Democratic Party at Dalton’s Mack Gaston Community Center tonight from 5 to 9.

    July 30, 2014