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Retired FBI agent to lead Johnson cold case probe

By Walter Geiger Fulfilling a campaign promise, Towaliga circuit district attorney Jonathan Adams has formed a team to launch a cold case investigation into the July 16, 1984 torture murder of Donna Ogletree Johnson. The new probe got underway in earnest Monday. Adams met with members of the Ogletree family, including Johnson’s sister Becky Peterman, Aug. 18 to discuss his plans. Adams said he intended to bring in a retired investigator with no prior history working the murder to put fresh eyes on the vast but aging case file. The investigation will be paid for with forfeiture funds generated by the DA’s office. Last week, Adams swore in retired FBI agent Jalaine G. Ward of Macon to head up the Johnson cold case team. Ward retired after 27 years as an FBI special agent based in Macon. She is now associated with Gold Shield 1881, consulting on corporate security and investigations and corporate executive protection detailing. With the FBI, she had 24 years experience in crisis negotiations and behavioral analysis profiling. She worked at length as a crisis negotiator and coordinated the FBI’s Atlanta behavioral analysis unit. Much profiling was done on the Johnson murder in 2005 after former sheriff Joe Buice launched a cold case probe and called in the Vidocq Society to work it. That investigation was shelved when there was no move to take the results to a grand jury and Buice was succeeded by late sheriff Larry Waller. Peterman has openly criticized the Waller administration for not working the case and expressed the family’s frustration in that regard to Adams at the Aug. 18 meeting. In addition to her behavioral analysis work, Ward has considerable experience in undercover work, sex crimes and child abductions. She spent seven years on the FBI’s child abduction rapid deployment team. Ward has also consulted extensively with local law enforcement on complex murder cases, serial homicides, cold case investigations and threat management. She will be joined on the team by K.B. Ayer who will be the liaison to the Ogletree family. Ayer has worked extensively as an investigator for the Monroe County sheriff’s office’s CARE cottage which works child abuse cases. Adams is taking that function circuit-wide and Ayer will direct its operations and run the DA’s victims outreach effort. She plans to expand victim services through the circuit, providing assistance from the time a crime is committed through the court process. Her son, Josh Ayer, is a special agent with the GBI who formerly worked this area. Donna Johnson’s car was found at a dumpster site at the corner of Piedmont and The Rock roads about 4:30 p.m. Her two small dogs were in the vehicle. Her body was found some four hours later on an old logging road. She had been gagged with her own bra and panties. Her blue jeans had been cut and pulled down to thigh level. She was hogtied, sexually violated with a metal rod, run over by a vehicle and finally dispatched with three blows to the head from a roofing hatchet or similar tool. Johnson lived in Pike County. Her car and body were found in Lamar County. Her family has waited over 33 years for justice to be served. ’At long last, we feel like we have someone in the DA’s office who is on our side. I really feel like this will be the year something finally happens. I have a good feeling about it,’ Peterman said.

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