MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Too many times, we report violent crimes including murders happening all around middle Georgia. We give you the latest information as we get it, sifting through to find the facts and talk to those who may have seen what happened. Several families don’t have those answers.Steve Davis remembers the November day in 1999 like it was yesterday.
His father, Charles, was getting ready to leave his house on Jones Road, on his way to the doctor for a regular check-up.
“So I went around the corner of the house, and everything, and found my father laying face down,” Steve said.
What happened next is something no one expects to see.
“I didn’t know if he had passed out or anything like that. So what I did is I went over there and rolled him over. When I rolled him over that’s where I found a gun up underneath him,” Steve said.
Charles Davis was dead.
A shot to the chest killed the grandfather instantly.
Police initially ruled the case as suicide, but autopsy results shows someone murdered Charles.
“He had bruises on his hands too, like he had been fighting. So I think that’s what happened,” Steve said.
Captain Jimmy Barbee, with the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, thinks about who killed Charles Davis, constantly.
Davis’ case, along with 81 others since 1972, are stored in Barbee’s office, carefully filed, critiqued, and reviewed daily.
“We don’t give up. I went back looking for these cases,” Barbee said.
Before government consolidation, Barbee worked with the Macon Police Department for more than 40 years.
Old Macon PD unsolved cases were grandfathered in with the sheriff’s office.
The cold cases, split up between murders, missing people, and forcible rape are where Barbee spends most of his time.
“I read a lot. There are so many things that we can do today that we couldn’t do in the 70’s, the 80’s and some things in the 90’s that we can do now — we can do better now,” Barbee said.
Barbee says not there’s better testing, better crime labs, better police work.
“It’s not like television. You can’t say ‘well I have a DNA profile and I’m going to go to the computer and tomorrow I’ll know who did it.’ No it takes a while. It takes weeks and months to get things done and you have to do it a certain way,” Barbee said.
Ophelia Austin doesn’t mind the wait, but would rather have answers now.
41NBC caught up with her laying fresh flowers on her grand daughter Sophia’s grave.
Sophia Denmark was killed in February of 2009 on Walnut Street in Macon and no one has reported seeing anything.
“I can’t give up because I don’t think Sophie would want me to give up. She doesn’t have a voice and now I have to speak for her,” Austin said.
Ophelia smiles now, because she says that’s how Sophia was…happy, joyful, and full of life.
“We want so much closure, we love Sophie so much. She was just so much fun,” Austin said.
That positive spirit is what drives Captain Barbee to want to heat back up these cold cases. He says it’s because of the families.
“It’s good for the families to know that somebody cares, and that’s all we try to do,” Barbee said.
Painful memories, hopeful families — two completely different cases connected by the unknown.
“I just think about her and asking the Lord to stir in whoever’s heart who did that to come forth,” Austin said.
“If they know anything about this case just call the sheriff and let them take care of it, and everything, and just give us closure, because it’s been 16 years since this happened,” Steve said.
It’s a mission Barbee isn’t giving up on and wouldn’t mind your help bringing these families’ one thing…justice.
Captain Barbee works with other investigators in Bibb County and surrounding areas to try to solve some of these cases.
He adds, it’s tough work and he can’t do it alone. If you remember seeing or hearing anything that involves the cases from this story or any others.
Call the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office or Crimestoppers at 1-877-68-CRIME.