There were four deaths uncovered in Augusta in about a 24 hour time span. Two of the cases are listed as homicides. The other two deaths are labeled “suspicious” while the coroner waits for autopsy results.
Here’s how the events happened.
On Tuesday evening, investigators uncovered the body of 59-year-old Kenneth Dowdy. His body was in a ditch outside the Trinity Manor Apartment Complex on Barton Chapel Rd. The incident report says Dowdy suffered a stab wound. The document does not list a suspect.
Also on Tuesday evening, investigators responded to a home on the 3600 block of Meadowlark Road. They found a body buried in a shallow grave behind the house and it has been sent to the GBI crime lab for official identification. An arrest warrant lists John Daniels as the murder suspect for an incident that happened at 3634 Meadowlark Road. John Jones is listed as the victim. The document says Daniels shot Jones in the back of the head. Daniels is a convicted felon and is now back behind bars.
On Wednesday evening, 72-year-old Sarah Douglas and 61-year-old Patrick Barnhardt were found dead at the Magnolia Park Apartments on Vandivere Rd. The coroner says, Douglas was in her apartment and Barnhardt was in his unit, which is in another building. The coroner also says the two knew each other, but it is unclear at this time how or if their deaths are connected. Autopsies are in the works to determine how they died.
Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen says there are plenty of days in which he responds to multiple calls in 24 hours, but mainly for deaths of natural causes. He says it is “very uncommon” for him to respond to two homicides and two suspicious deaths in such a short period of time.
“I used to live over there!” LaSonja Anderson said surprised after she heard what happened at the Magnolia Park Apartments.
Anderson lives in Grovetown now. Curiosity brought her back to Magnolia Park where she lived decades ago.
“That’s quite scary,” Anderson says. “All we’ve been hearing about all week in Augusta is bodies being found.”
Two bodies were found on Tuesday and then two more the next day.
“Which is just crazy in itself,” says Peggy Schaffer who is the manager at Villa Europa, a restaurant on Deans Bride Road.
Shaffer was paying attention to the reports of bodies found because her friend and employee, John Jones went missing two weeks prior.
“I actually saw a picture of one, you know how social media is and I was like, nope, that’s not John and then a few minutes later, found out that they were looking over there and then one of our employees, the one that dropped him off at the house said that’s the house,” Schaffer says.
John Daniels is the sole suspect listed in her friend’s murder. Shaffer does not think he acted alone and says there is still ju
“[Daniels] was an amputee and there was no way he was able to do that by himself,” Schaffer says. Daniels appears to be sitting in a wheelchair in his mug shot.
Schaffer wants anyone responsible for her friends death and burial to face judgement.
“I think there’s more, but I think there’s more in that whole neighborhood that needs to be done,” Schaffer says.
As for the Magnolia Park neighborhood, Anderson reminisces about what it was like when she lived there.
“Oh man, in the 90s, nobody was dead,” Anderson says. “When we lived over here, we had a lot of fun, we cooked out a lot.
Anderson says she wants those ideals to return to the present.
“This is the home of The Masters first of all. We have a lot of kids in our community. This is not good for the city of Augusta or the surrounding areas. We need our city leaders to buckle down on this crime here. It is horrible and when you’ve got bodies being found here and there and everywhere, it’s just crazy.”
All four of the deaths are still under investigation.