While that’s on the upper end of what’s typical for Cobb County, it’s not the highest number of homicides the county has seen in recent years. In 2011, there were 30 people killed by another person.
Cobb Police have investigated as many as 30 homicides in a year and as few as 10, said Sgt. Lawrence Szeniawski, a 22-year veteran of the force.
“Twenty is the typical ball park,” he said.
Of the 17 homicides solved by Cobb Police in 2013, Szeniawski said, only two of the suspects were from outside of Cobb County. Five of the killings remain unsolved.
Shooter targets woman in her car
Four of the five unsolved homicides have been investigated by Cobb Police, including the New Year’s Eve shooting of Manju Poonmagar, 37, of Marietta.
Poonmagar was found dead in her car in the parking lot of Westminster Square Apartments, where she lived.
Police responded at 1:19 a.m. to a reported car crash at the complex off Windy Hill Road.
Although the apartments were gated, the large black iron gate had been smashed two weeks prior to the shooting and has been left wide open ever since, according to residents of the complex.
Cobb officers were inside Poonmagar’s apartment on the afternoon of Dec. 31, where they escorted a man, who appeared to be of South Asian ethnicity, but was not Poonmagar’s husband, down the stairs of the apartment building and into the front passenger seat of a detective’s car.
Cobb Police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce said the man was not a suspect, but was questioned as a witness.
Investigators will continue to canvass the area and talk to family to “look at every aspect and dynamic of (Poonmagar’s) personal life,” Pierce said.
Poonmagar and her husband, Tara, were natives of Nepal. She had joined her husband in Cobb two years ago, after he started a tourism business, said a friend at the crime scene.
Who killed 86-year-old Juanita Calvert?
Of the six homicides the Marietta Police Department has investigated in 2013, only one remains unsolved.
But it is one “that is a horrifically tragic case,” said Officer David Baldwin, spokesman for the department.
On Dec. 17, a nearly-blind elderly woman was found by a caregiver shot to death in her home on Aviation Road, off the 120 Loop near the Cobb Community Transit transfer station.
Police say Juanita Calvert, 86, who lived with her bedridden male companion, was the victim of theft earlier in 2013 by a former caregiver, Antione Davis, who is out on bond after being arrested on two felony charges of exploitation of a disabled adult and theft by taking, according to police reports.
No arrests have been made and detectives are still actively investigating, said Baldwin.
Baldwin said a case runs cold when “detectives have literally reached the end of their investigation” by exhausting every piece of evidence and every lead.
Marietta Police try to review Marietta Police try to review stalled cases to “reignite a spark,” Baldwin said.
Those efforts could include resubmitting collected DNA or bullets if there have been advancements in technology, Baldwin said. Or, using detailed statistics in databases to look at other cases with similar circumstances.
Most killings not random in Cobb
The Cobb 2013 homicide rate of 28 people does not include suicides, although many of the killings were committed right before the killer turned the gun on him- or herself.
The last homicide in Kennesaw dates back to 2009, and it was murder-suicide, according to Officer Scott Luther with the Kennesaw Police Department.
Szeniawski said homicides in Cobb never seem to be random acts or mass shootings in malls or schools.
“Most homicides are personal,” Szeniawski said, and there is usually a reason the victim was targeted.
Szeniawski said, because the of the personal nature of homicides, the crime is often not preventable.
“It is murder; someone wants to kill you,” Szeniawski said.
In 2013, at least three crime scenes in Cobb included seven dead bodies, and each suspected murder-suicide occurred in the late afternoon.
On Dec. 18, Sherrie Newton, 43, was found dead by her husband, Marty, after returning from work to their east Cobb home on Post Oak Tritt Road, Cobb Police said.
Newton’s best friend said Bryan Bunch, 26, had met Newton at a gym and began stalking her. The nature of their relationship remains unclear, but the killing was called a murder-suicide by Cobb Police.
Although each of the killings in 2013 shocked friends and neighbors, there was one homicide in Marietta that seemed so random and brutal it sent shock waves through the whole county.
In the early morning of June 30, police say Joshua Chellew, 36, was beaten and stomped at a Chevron station at 6211 Mableton Parkway, a mile south of Veterans Memorial Highway.
Chellew ran into the five-lane highway in an attempt to escape, was knocked unconscious by a group of young men and was later hit by a car, according to arrest warrants.
A Cobb grand jury indicted four young men in September on murder charges stemming from the allegedly gang-related beating death of the Mableton man.
Johnathan Anthony, 18, Kemonta Bonds, 21, and Antonio Pass, 19, all of Mableton, and Jekari Strozier, 20, of Austell, were charged with malice murder, six counts of felony murder, aggravated assault and aggravated battery in the beating death of Chellew.
Longtime Lockheed employee murdered
Oftentimes, there is “insufficient evidence” to arrest a suspect, even if the police believe they have pinpointed the killer, Szeniawski said.
If it is not a “rock-solid case,” we won’t charge someone, Szeniawski said.
In 2013, there were three separate cases of Cobb men found dead in or near their home, but their killers all remain a mystery.
Frank William Davidson, 60, of Kennesaw, was found dead by a family member on April 22. Davidson was sitting in his green 2001 Mercury Marquis in his driveway off Stilesboro Road, according to Cobb Police.
Reports by the MDJ days after the discovery, said Davidson was well liked by his neighbors and had worked at Lockheed Martin for 33 years.
According to the Cobb Police incident report, a bullet was collected from under the front passenger seat and investigators took swabs of blood, finger prints and hairs from the vehicle. Also listed as items taken from the car was a Bible, a portable ALCOHAWK Breathalyzer and a cane.
The report states a computer tower and cellphone from inside the house were also confiscated. The police also submitted bank account and life insurance policy information as evidence, according to the report.
Austell, Powder Springs killings still unsolved
Another unsolved killing occurred Aug. 15 at Village Mobile Home Park off Six Flags Road.
Joseph Jones, 48, of Austell, was found inside his home in a state of decay, according to Cobb Police.
Police said the manager of the mobile home park was making a “welfare check,” which is when a family member or friend cannot get in touch with a loved one and asks for help.
The incident report lists a bullet fragment found on the first step of the porch, as well as a pair of gloves from the floor of the front porch. Cobb Police also seized a Kodak camera found in the left drawer of Jones’ dresser, according to the report.
Another man was found by Cobb police dead in his home after a call by a neighbor Oct. 24.
David Scott, 34, lived in the Melrose Square subdivision off Florence Road northwest of Powder Springs.
A woman who answered the door the day after Scott’s body was discovered said he was “a good father” to six kids and a youth football coach.
A neighbor said he was leery of Scott, who he said would have packages mailed to other homes in the subdivision and then collect them while everyone was at work during the day.
Scott was arrested in October 2009 on charges of intent to distribute marijuana, felony obstruction and driving with a suspended license.
He was arrested again on March 28 on two misdemeanor charges of alleged battery and disorderly conduct.
The incident report listed a Shawn Harper of San Diego, Calif., as being contacted by police. The report also lists under evidence a Smith and Wesson shell casing, a UPS Store shipping receipt and a Western Union money order slip.
The Jones and Scott cases were both supervised by Szeniawski.
Of the 28 homicide deaths in Cobb last year, three of the people were killed by Cobb Police.
One shooting is still being investigated by the department’s internal affairs unit.
On Dec. 27 at 10:15 a.m., Cobb Police were investigating a reported stolen motorcycle in the parking lot of an Extended Stay America Hotel on Powers Ferry Road off Interstate 285 in the Cumberland area.
Police confronted a man in room 345, identified as John Massey, 30, of Marietta, a struggle ensued and he reportedly drew a handgun. Officers shot him dead.
“The officers involved in this incident have been placed on routine administrative leave and are not being identified at this time,” stated a brief police report issued on the day of the shooting.
Cobb Police still have not released the name of officers involved in the fatal shooting, if the officers will face charges or be cleared of any wrongdoing.