Middle Georgia Cold Cases: The Last Words
DUBLIN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Dublin police are still trying to find a killer who attacked a jewelry store owner 27 years ago.
The city’s police chief, Tim Chatman, says the victim initially survived the attack, but left little clues as to who went after him.
When you’re on a mission to solve a case as old as this one, you have to be persistent.
“It compounds a problem when you don’t have cooperation that you desire to bring the case to closure,” Chatman said.
Chatman is talking about the case that happened at what’s now a barbershop on Madison Street in March 1989.
67-year-old Robert Hightower, a jewelry store owner, was attacked — possibly pistol-whipped, inside his store.
“A witness saw him walk outside. What caught his attention, Mr. Hightower had blood on his shirt,” Chatman said.
Hightower then drove home, about nine miles, to East Dublin where his wife was stunned.
“She attempted to call 911 and he refused and got into an argument with his wife about calling the authorities,” Chatman rememebed while looking over the case file.
A bloodied Hightower was resilient and stubborn until his wife drove him to the hospital. Chief Chatman was a detective assigned to the case at the time.
“When I tried to do an interview with him, he was very evasive with me. He did not want to tell me any of the details,” he said.
Chatman says with little clues and no testimony, the only place he could start finding answers was inside that jewelry store.
“What was strange about it was, when we went back to his office he had cleaned up. It was immaculate. There were bloody towels all in the trash can, but that’s it,” Chatman said.
Clean? After being attacked? Chatman went back to ask Hightower more questions — this time he gave Chatman a response.
“At one particular time I asked him do you know your attackers and he said ‘I will handle it,” Chatman said.
Investigators couldn’t find anything stolen inside the store. The only thing missing was Hightower’s gun and a .38 caliber handgun Hightower owned.
“We were trying to put all the pieces together why would he leave and number one not call the authorities when it happened. He cleaned up his office, got into an argument with his wife, and when the authorities were trying to speak with him about it, he was very evasive,” Chatman said.
A short time after Hightower and Chatman spoke, he died from his injuries in the hospital.
Chatman says as the years pass, someone needs to come out of hiding and confess.
“That missing link could be that person who actually has that missing part,” he said.
It’s a frustrating situation, Chatman insists, will get solved.
“This is someone’s husband, maybe a father, maybe an uncle, grandfather,” he said.
If you have information in solving this case, call the Dublin Police Department at 478-277-5023.