Slain woman’s grandmother asks public’s help in finding killers
The grandmother of slain north Fayette resident Donna Denice Roberts made an emotional plea to the community Friday afternoon, asking anyone with information pertaining to the Aug. 10 murder of her 44-year-old granddaughter at their home on Bohannon Road to provide sheriff’s investigators with that information.
Roberts’ 78-year-old grandmother appeared at the Friday afternoon press conference at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office to reach out to the community for help in finding the suspect or suspects involved in the shooting that claimed Roberts’ life. The grandmother asked not to be identified by name.
“Last Friday my granddaughter and I returned home from running errands and walked in on a burglary in our home. They ran out of the back door, jumped in their car and as they started out the drive they fired one shot. That shot took my baby’s life,” the grandmother said tearfully. “Denice was 44 years old and she had cerebral palsy. I had cared for her since birth. Her little body was crippled but her mind was sharp. Her heart was big and full of love. She never met a stranger. Her smile could light the room when she walked in. She loved everybody and everybody loved her. She loved her family and friends, but above all she loved God.
“My heart is broken. Whoever did this took not only my granddaughter’s life, but my reason for living. We needed each other. She was my best friend and I am totally lost without her,” Roberts’ grandmother continued, trying to hold back the tears. “I beg and plead that if you know anything about this, or if you saw anything, please contact Fayette County. Please pray with me that these people are caught so they won’t hurt another innocent person. Denice did not deserve to die this way. She did not hurt anyone. I thank you for anything you can do to help us find justice.”
Also at the press conference, sheriff’s investigator Brent Rowan answered questions on the Aug. 10 murder that occurred at the home at192 Bohannon Road in north Fayette County, just north of Tyrone and close to Fairburn and the Fulton County line.
Rowan said the sheriff’s office last Friday began investigating the murder of 44-year-old Donna Denice Roberts. Known to friends as Denice, she lived with her grandmother who was also Roberts’ caregiver for her entire life due to her physical and mental disabilities, said Rowan.
The shooting occurred after Roberts and her grandmother returned home from running errands and interrupted the burglary, Rowan said. Roberts and her grandmother spotted the burglars as they entered the front door and saw the suspects. They saw someone inside and exited immediately. The suspects then fled out the back door, entering a light colored, four-door passenger car that had been parked near the rear of the house while the two women were still on the front porch, Rowan said.
It is not known if the shot that killed Roberts was fired while the car was moving or if it had come to a stop, said Rowan. What is known is that the shot was fired from the driveway approximately 20-30 yards from the front porch and near Bohannon Road. The single shot struck Roberts in the head. The suspects fired a single shot, striking Denice where she was later pronounced dead on the front porch, said Rowan.
Rowan said the two women noticed the car in the driveway near the rear of the house but thought it might have belonged to a relative.
Rowan fought back his own tears as he referenced the perfect attendance plaque from Sunday School he had seen at Roberts’ funeral.
“We’re going to work diligently and we’re going to find this individual. And we need the help of the citizens of our community and we’re asking if you know anything to contact the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office,” said Rowan, again with obvious emotion. “We take every incident like this personal. Fayette County is our home. It’s our duty to protect these people.”
Rowan reiterated that, without releasing potentially sensitive information, investigators believe that more than one suspect might be involved. As for the potential that the home had been targeted, Rowan said that, at this time, there is no evidence to suggest that, adding that the burglary appears to have been random. Rowan without elaborating said there was some evidence left at the scene. It was something from inside the home that the suspects attempted to take but left behind, he said.
Rowan offered no details but did indicate that investigators have reason to believe there was more than one suspect involved. He said investigators were in the Bohannon Road area earlier in the day to ask motorists and residents that may have frequented the area during the same time period last Friday if they had noticed anything suspicious that might help the investigation. He said investigators did obtain some information, adding that it is too early to know if the information is pertinent to the murder investigation. Rowan added that investigators have been and will continue to follow up on all leads.
“What we’re asking for is for anybody in this community to come forward with information which can help us with this investigation. We have received some tips, and there was some evidence left at the scene. We’ve been tracking those tips down and doing everything in our power as a sheriff’s office. We take this personally because she was a resident of Fayette County,” Rowan said, with emotion still filling his voice. “It is possible that there was someone present in the suspect vehicle that was not aware of what was about to transpire. Maybe they have information they can provide us. Maybe they are scared. What we’re asking for is for them to do the right thing and come forward.”
Rowan thanked police from Fairburn, Tyrone and Fulton County for assisting in the incident.
A reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for the killing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Josh Shelton at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office at 770-716-4750 or 770-716-4777 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.