Three-day man-hunt ends in arrest

Patrick Yost News

A three-day man hunt for a man wanted for killing his estranged wife ended in a field off Hestertown Road in Walton County after the suspect shot himself in the face with a shotgun.

Jerome Mobley, 39, was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital with a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head and a small caliber pistol wound on his upper left thigh. Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley said authorities believe Mobley was shot in the leg by his estranged wife during a domestic confrontation at the woman’s Knox Chapel Road residence.

Markley said authorities allege that Mobley kicked down the door at the woman’s house, which is roughly 1.5 miles from the Morgan County line, and the couple engaged in a fight that included the woman being shot three times. The incident occurred in front of the couple’s young children. Markley said the children “tried to render first aid to the mother and called 911.”

The incident occurred at approximately 6:45 a.m. Mobley had driven to the Knox Chapel Road residence in a borrowed pickup truck. Markley said that the truck was located deep in the woods behind the Studdard Cemetery in Morgan County by a Walton County deputy at approximately 11:45 a.m.

“He went in with force and determination. It was well hidden,” Markley said.

Investigators found blood in the vehicle and a bloody belt in front of the vehicle. When the vehicle was located, Markley said, more than 60 officers from state and local agencies descended on the Studdard Cemetery on Wednesday. By Thursday, more than 100 officers including helicopters, eight search dogs including blood hounds, several drone aircraft and members of the United States Marshall Service joined the massive search for Mobley.

Markley said lines of officers searched the heavily wooded area in Hard Labor Creek State Park trying to locate the suspect. Mobley was found at approximately 4:30 p.m. about seven aerial miles from the borrowed truck off Hestertown Road.

Markley said a young man heard dogs barking and called his father regarding a man in a wood line near the home. The young man’s father secured a weapon and investigated, Markley said. He said he recognized Mobley and challenged him to come out. The man said they then heard a shot and discovered that Mobley had shot himself.

Mobley is being charged with felony murder, aggravated assault and two counts of first-degree cruelty to children.

During the search, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office had listed Mobley as “armed and dangerous.”

Markley said while the incident “wasn’t going to have a happy ending regardless,” he was “impressed with my people and the dedication that they showed.”

He said after the discovery of the truck, officers stayed on duty and on patrol during the search effort, including door-to-door meetings with residents and an increased road presence. He said countless citizens came by the Studdard Cemetery police encampment to offer drinks and food to officers.

Markley said when he got word that Mobley had been captured, he breathed a sigh of relief. “I was happy that no one else got hurt, that none of the officers got hurt.”

“You feel a huge responsibility to protect our citizens.”

Along with the Morgan County and Walton County Sheriff’s Offices, members of the Georgia State Patrol, GBI, Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Doraville Police Department engaged in the search.

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