After 20 years, investigator, attorney recall deaths of Austell girls as ‘bloody,’ and ‘enough to make you cry'
by Noreen Cochran
ncochran@mdjonline.com
January 06, 2013 12:43 AM | 6229 views | 9 9 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Russ Parker's trial notes include photos of 15-year-old Bridgett Lee and 7-year-old Britney Ikharia, who were killed 20 years ago today in an apartment off Six Flags Drive in Austell.<br>Staff/Noreen Cochran
Russ Parker's trial notes include photos of 15-year-old Bridgett Lee and 7-year-old Britney Ikharia, who were killed 20 years ago today in an apartment off Six Flags Drive in Austell.
Staff/Noreen Cochran
slideshow
 ‘These were not merciful killings,’ Parker, above, said during a 1996 trial. ‘These children suffered, both mentally and physically. They were terrified and tortured.’<br>Staff/Noreen Cochran
‘These were not merciful killings,’ Parker, above, said during a 1996 trial. ‘These children suffered, both mentally and physically. They were terrified and tortured.’
Staff/Noreen Cochran
slideshow
AUSTELL — Today is the 20th anniversary of the stabbing deaths of Pebblebrook High School honor student Bridgett LaShelle Lee, 15, and her half-sister Britney Ikharia, 7, a first-grader at Bryant Elementary School.

Eddie Herman, then a detective with 13 years of experience on the Cobb County police force, recently reflected on the case.

“It was as bad a crime scene as I had ever been exposed to. It was bloody,” said Herman, now a Douglas County investigator.

He said he and fellow homicide detectives were galvanized by the slayings at the Lake Crossing apartment complex on Blairs Bridge Road near Six Flags.

“From the investigators’ standpoint, it was one of those cases that has that effect on you, mainly because it was kids and they were brutally murdered in their own home,” Herman said. “It was a career-defining case for me. We made it a passion to get those folks brought in.”

The girls’ four killers — Inez Ottis, Rudoph Ottis, Robert Aaron Floyd and Antonio Lowery — were eventually sentenced to life in prison, but not before shaking up a county seemingly under siege.

“It polarized the community,” Herman said. “We had had a rash of pretty brutal homicides. If you think, at that time, coming off the holidays and the (Sara) Tokars murder in November, you thought, ‘This was the coup de grace.’ What else could happen?”

A drug angle soon surfaced, placing the girls’ mother, Barbara Ann Jenkins, in a criminal light.

“We focused on the girls’ mother right away. She was involved in moving some drugs,” Herman said about cocaine trafficking. “Even though it took a while for her to come clean with what was going on in her life, it was clear she wasn’t involved.”

Jenkins, who died in 2003, was ruled out as a murder suspect and not brought up on charges relating to the two kilos of cocaine she had just brought back from Miami.

“I remember interviewing her that night,” Herman said. “We had the mother who lost her kids and we also had the reason they were killed. We didn’t pounce on her right away. We needed her to try to establish who was going to rip her off.”

Evidence at the scene pointed to a home invasion in which the premises were ransacked, although computers and cellphones were left untouched.

“Whoever was there had been looking for cash or drugs,” Herman said.

Two years of following leads, including tips from drug culture denizens, eventually supplied the information needed to collar the felons and convict them in 1996.

“I think the big thing was the brutality and that it was kids,” Herman said. “Even people in the drug business, that mindset was, ‘You crossed the line.’ It’s one thing to rip off the dope dealer, but it’s another thing when you start killing kids.”

During the trials, Assistant District Attorney Russ Parker said the crimes were particularly heinous.

“These were not merciful killings,” he said during closing arguments at Rudolph Ottis’ trial in February 1996. “These children suffered, both mentally and physically. They were terrified and tortured.”

Last week, Parker recalled the work involved in obtaining the convictions, including proving a conspiracy theory.

“There were a lot of objections by the defense counsel. It seems every time Judge (Robert) Fluornoy took a recess, I had to read up on the conspiracy law,” Parker said. “We argued over that for hours on end.”

He said the stunning facts of the case seared it into memory, even 20 years later.

“They were young, pretty little girls,” Parker said. “It was enough to make you cry."
Comments
(9)
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codia
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July 24, 2014
Wow. This open up old wounds for me. I remember coming home from school that day hearing the terrible news. Two weeks pryor to their murder Bridgette was over our house kicking it with me and my sister tee. She was a close friend. I cryed like never before. Me and my partners sung at they funeral. Im hurt still to this day.
Devan2122
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November 02, 2013
I was reading a newspaper article from 1993 that stated that this crime was possibly connected to the murder of a man named James Tyes. Does anyone know anything about this??
john jenkins
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December 05, 2013
its been so much speculation surroundind my nieces death you have to listento the people who investigated this crime they pretty much knew what happen enough with the speculation already read the article
mikeyjenkins
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August 06, 2013
I miss my cousins so much. Even after all this time I think about them all the time wishing they had a chance to live their lives, learn to drive, graduate highschool and college, get married, have children...Bridget and Ackie was so full of life. To the day I die I will not understand why their lives didn't deserve a chance. .
Kim Smith
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August 06, 2013
I know/knew this family and they were very smart little girls,beautiful and well loved,it was such a tragedy what happened to them and regardless of what their mom loved them unconditionally ...
Deborah Jenkins
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August 06, 2013
Reading this about my niece make me sick to my stomach,

I am crying really badly right known it still hurt so bad.....
john jenkins
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August 05, 2013
I want take this time to thank Det Eddie Herman for his relentless pursuit of these individuals also go out to district attorney Russ Parker even though our lifestyle was exposed you're main interest was to bring whoever was responsible for this heinous crime be brought to justice
tattedbaby
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January 06, 2013
Too bad after 20 years the focus was why the where killed and not who they really where.... more than beauty. They would have been great women, mothers and friends. R.I.P YOU ARE NEVER FORGOTTEN! !!!!!!!
tikharia
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May 09, 2013
This is a very hard pill to swallow. Not because one of the youth's is my step daughter it's because these youth's was taken from this earth by someone their mother was friends with. When I found this on the computer I called my husband to tell him about this he could hardly breath when I read it to him. Sad day for him to know how his daughter was killed.
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