Two charged in Sandy Creek knife murder

Staff Written News

By Patrick Yost


Two Walton County men remain incarcerated at the Walton County Detention Center on charges related to the stabbing death of a third man that authorities believe occurred in Morgan County.

According to Chief Deputy Keith Howard of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, the killing has drawn in investigators from multiple agencies including the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI), Walton County Sheriff’s Office and Morgan County officials.

Howard said brothers Tommy Joe Byrd, 55, and Tommy Roger Byrd, 56, are both currently detained and being held on a tampering with evidence charge in the death of Walton County resident Jerald Jerome Bowden, 58.

Howard said Bowden’s body was found by Walton County investigators in the driveway of his Walton County home early in the morning on Monday, May 4. The body has since been taken to a GBI crime lab and an autopsy was expected to be performed on Wednesday.

According to Morgan County Sheriff’s Office reports, Morgan County Dispatch was called by a woman at approximately 1:20 a.m. from Sandy Creek Road reporting that she heard loud male voices on the road outside her house and vehicles revving their engines. Reports also state that at the same time, another woman called and said she was with a group of people who had gotten into an altercation and was driving to Morgan Medical Center. Authorities alerted hospital officials in Morgan, Greene, Putnam, Walton and Athens to be on the alert for a stabbing victim. However, none of the hospitals came in contact with a stabbing victim.

Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley went to the Sandy Creek area and located a bumper from a vehicle and a four inch folding knife that authorities suspect may have been used in the stabbing.

Howard said authorities believe that six individuals, including both Byrds and Bowden, travelled together in a Honda from Walton County to retrieve a rental truck that had been left parked at a Madison motel. 

On the return to Walton County, Howard said, the Honda attempted to turn west on Sandy Creek Road and missed the turn and ran into a grassy area near the Country Store convenience store. Howard said approximately one mile west of the intersection of Bostwick Highway and Sandy Creek Road, the two vehicles stopped and some type of altercation ensued. 

“We are still investigating to make the motive clear,” he said, adding that the victim was allegedly dating the sister one of the Byrd brothers. “We have witnesses that saw them fighting.”

Howard said a good samaritan stopped at the scene and helped two men place Bowden in a vehicle. “When he pulled up there were two guys trying to help the guy get in a vehicle. He stopped and helped them put the guy in the vehicle.”

After a female in the group called Morgan County 911 to report they were coming to the hospital, they instead drove back to Walton County.

Howard said authorities are waiting for autopsy reports on the cause of death but that Bowden had been stabbed “multiple times.” Authorities executed a search warrant on a woman’s apartment in Athens and retained several knives and an object of clothing one of the suspect’s allegedly left at the residence.

“They were passing through,” Howard said. He said after consultations with District Attorney Stephen Bradley and other agencies, Morgan County is expected to take further charges against the Byrd brothers in relation to the stabbing.

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