Posted: Thursday, September 20th 2012 at 4:17pm
Murder warrants issued in July 6 Elbert County deaths
By Rob Moore Editor
ELBERTON – Murder warrants have been issued on two brothers in connection with a July 6 double homicide in Elbert County.
Thursday afternoon, Elbert County Sheriff Barry Haston announced that Cesar Augusto Suarez, 26, of Athens, and Diego Ernesto Suarez, 23, of Lexington have been charged with murder in the shooting deaths of Joe Bellew and Lori Phillips, who were killed at Bellew’s home on Bellew Drive in Bowman.
Haston said the victims’ families were contacted about the issuance of the warrants before the information was released to the public.
The discovery of a body – later identified as 34-year-old Derrick Andre Johnson – in an Oglethorpe County field on Aug. 18, which was investigated as a murder by the Oglethorpe County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, was a break in the case, Haston said.
Evidence collected during the Oglethorpe County investigation was compared to evidence collected during the Elbert County double homicide investigation and there were what Haston called “significant and conclusive similarities.”
The Suarez brothers already were jailed for malice murder in Johnson’s death, which GBI officials have said appeared to be drug-related.
Johnson had been shot multiple times.
While investigators believe a motive in the Bowman double homicides has been established, Haston said he cannot discuss it at this time in order to preserve the integrity of the case.
Haston said the investigation is continuing and he anticipates that additional warrants could be issued.
Haston credited Hart, Franklin, and Oglethorpe County sheriff’s offices and the GBI for their cooperation and assistance.
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