WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WJBF) – Loved ones of a Burke County man killed three days after Christmas in 2016 continue their search for answers nearly five years later. The life and murder of Daniel Triplett is this month’s Cold Case Project.
“My plans for him were for him to go to the service. That’s what I wanted for him. I wanted him to get away. I wanted him to get out and see the world,” Triplett’s mother Patricia Kelly told us.
“He liked sports,” his father Terell Triplett shared. “That was his number one thing. But I wanted him to go to the army. So, he didn’t like the army, not too much.”
One mother’s dream for her son and a father’s hope never played out. Daniel Phalon Triplett’s parents still remember their last conversation with their son.
“He was training to drive trucks and I had the conversation with him. He said, ‘Mama, they ‘gon call you about this truck thing.’ I say, ‘Well OK baby.’ He said, ‘Well mama I’m going.’ Just a little joke between me and him, ‘Don’t take those things with you.’ He bust out laughing because he knew what I was talking about.”
His dad shared a final memory too.
“He kissed me on my cheek and told me I love you father because we had a dispute about something, a little misunderstanding,” Terell Triplett recalled. “And he came back and apologized the next day and told me he was sorry.”
While Patricia Kelly saw her son just before Christmas, Terell Triplett saw Daniel Tuesday, December 27, 2016, a day before he was found dead.
Burke County Sheriff’s Office investigators released the incident report for the crime, showing Triplett was murdered with a gun and left on H. Berol Road, a dirt covered street near Middleground Road. He was found around 10 o’clock the morning of Wednesday, December 28, 2016.
“DNR officers were working some wildlife management areas and as they were passing through one wildlife management area to another on H. Berol Road, they located a deceased individual later identified as Daniel Triplett in the middle of the road,” said Lt. James Kelly, Criminal Investigation Division, Burke County Sheriff’s Office. He told us he inherited the case recently from GBI when Cold Case Project inquired about it. Leads ended with that agency in February of 2017.
“Only thing I could do is just scream. I could just scream,” Patricia Kelly exclaimed. “That’s all I could do because the homicide, I thought my son had got in some trouble, like ok I can go and get him out of the trouble. But homicide?”
NewsChannel 6 reported in 2016 that Triplett was shot somewhere else and later taken to H. Berol Road. Lt. James Kelly, who would not confirm those details, told us the 25-year-old left home on North Liberty Street where his girlfriend and children lived and went to Briarwood Apartments.
Terell Triplett told us he remembers that day.
We asked, what did he do?
“Him and my cousin was together,” Triplett remembered. “That was the last time I talked with him. I tried to call him, but he didn’t never answer the phone.”
In order to trace his steps more closely, Cold Case Project sat down with Cortney Way, the mother of Triplett’s children. She said that cousin he was with, dropped him off at home on the 27th, but Triplett left again that night to visit another cousin who lived in Briarwood. She chose not to have her face shown on TV.
Did you hear anything about what might have happened to him or were you able to put together what possibly could have happened?
Cortney Way, Triplett’s former girlfriend answered no and stated, “He went to his cousin house, but they said, he didn’t make it. So, after that I don’t know if he left with somebody else or.”
Investigators said Daniel Triplett did, in fact, make it to Brairwood Apartments off East 7th Street. While we do not know which cousin he was supposed to visit there, we sat down with the cousin who took him home earlier that day. He chose not to be identified for this story.
“We hung together everyday. It was me and him. We were road dogs. Bonnie and Clyde, but two men,” he said.
The cousin added he’s older than Daniel and tried to teach him right from wrong. As he was turning his life around, preparing for truck driving school, he was murdered. His cousin also said he still does not know why Daniel went out to Briarwood that night. But reflecting back, he now realizes the man he saw grow into a father had another aspect of life he did not know about.
“It hurts me to the point to where I feel like he told me everything and he was in a situation and when he went to having kids and trying to better himself,” he stated.
Way also shared, “He said once, if he leave this world he will have something on this Earth. He always told me to make sure that they have they own room, so I got my own place and they all got they own room.”
Way told us she and Daniel have three children, a 7-year-old daughter, a 5-year-old son and a girl who is four, just one month old when her father was murdered.
“He always used to tell the oldest girl, you are beautiful, kind and special. And every day, that’s what she say. ‘Mama, I’m beautiful, smart and kind just like my daddy said,” she told us.
Triplett said he knows his son loved being a father, just like he did.
“That was number one. He loved his kids. He loved being a father.”
Daniel’s mother said her eldest granddaughter is smart, just like Daniel too. The Burke County High School football player and graduate did a stint in job corps and worked several jobs in the CSRA.
Was he good with his hands?
“Oh yes ma’am, he was,” his mom replied. “He was good. He fixed stuff. He’d tear stuff up.”
His loved ones said he went to church faithfully, was sweet and kind and to their knowledge, had no known enemies. But his mother told us she warned him about his inner circle.
“I told him, I said your baby mama, your family and your so called friends,” Kelly said. “He would call me and tell me things. I said baby, you need to get away from them. You get away from them, you gone be alright. I told him that twice.”
Daniel Triplett’s family still wants answers and justice nearly five years later.
“They didn’t have to kill him, whatever went on. I’ll say that. They didn’t have to kill him,” his father said.
“Whoever done it need to stand forward and go to trial and be judged,” Patricia Kelly said about her son’s murderer.
“Whoever did that to my cousin, it will come to justice. It might be on their dying bed. It might be on their grave. It might be at their funeral. It might be kids get taken out of their lives for particular reasons, but all wrongdoing will be repaid.”
Anyone with any information on the murder of Daniel Triplett should call the Burke County Sheriff’s Office at 706-554-2133 or CID at 706-554-6633.
Next time on the Cold Case Project we take you to Jefferson County where Bill “Bo Peep” Farrer went missing September 13, 2002 from Rocky Creek in Louisville, Georgia. What the family and law enforcement need to get justice and close the case.