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Johnson Case: Rene Hood Chamblee

Part six in a serialization of interviews published on the 26th anniversary of the brutal murder of Donna Johnson: By Rachel McDaniel Former sheriff’s investigator René Hood Chamblee was the first officer on the scene after Donna Johnson’s car was found at the dumpsters. ’I knew Donna and the Johnson family and the events of that day are burned into my brain. About six hours after we found the car we found her body … about a quarter mile down the road. Everybody says she was found on an old logging road but it wasn’t. It was the former road bed from when they had the old bridge down there. When they put in the new bridge they moved it about 50 feet over but the old road was still there. ’It began raining heavily as the car was being towed and search teams were sent out in the area. The rains hampered the investigation but there was evidence gathered at the scene. It was a minimonsoon. A lot of what could have been feasible evidence was probably lost because of the rain but that doesn’t mean there’s absolutely no evidence. ’There are all kinds of new technology that have come about since then. It’s hopeful with the new technology something will be discovered or someone will come forward and bring an end to this case. (About) 30 to 40 suspects arose from tips gathered from hotlines and possible witnesses. ’Most suspects were eliminated for one reason or another. They weren’t around or were in a jail cell at the time. The sheriff’s office does have a sketch of a possible suspect or a witness. Any investigator is going to have one key person in an investigation but is there enough evidence to arrest and charge anybody? At this point as far as I know, there’s not. But the more you review everything … this was a voluminous case. We’re talking about dozens and dozens of case files that have to be carried in a chest high file box. ‘I believe somebody knows something. I hope and pray they don’t take it to the grave with them. She’s already lost her mama before her mom could get any answers. I hope her sister Becky doesn’t have to go the rest of her life not knowing. This thing needs to come to a rest. This has been one of the most unsettling things I’ve never seen conclusion to and I’ve seen several cold cases. This is one that needs to be solved.’ If you have information on the Johnson case, call the Lamar County sheriff’s office at 770.358.5159, the Milledgeville office of the GBI at 1.478.445.4173 or The Herald-Gazette at 770.358.NEWS. All tips submitted to the newspaper will be kept confidential and routed to the proper authorities.

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