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Friday, April 18, 2014

Neighbors, cops, canvas for clues in Adamsville killings

Atlanta police huddle before heading out to canvas Adamsville, searching for clues in four homicides.
  • Maggie Lee
  • Atlanta police huddle before heading out to canvas Adamsville, searching for clues in four homicides.
On Wednesday night, Belinda Jones, her family, and her friends stood at the edge of the playground at the Adamsville Community Center, watching dozens of Atlanta Police officers organize an evening canvas of the area. They looked for clues in four recent killings, including the one of her son, R.J. Menefee.

"He is gone but not forgotten," said Jones. Her 35-year-old son was shot on Jan. 26 in a home invasion in the apartment complex just beside the southwest Atlanta center.

The police got a call on that January night for a fight with a firearm. While en route, the call was updated to "person shot." Grady Memorial Hospital paramedics pronounced Menefee dead on the scene.

Three additional homicides in March, all in neighborhoods near the center, prompted what the APD calls a "Tactical Neighborhood Canvas." On Wednesday evening, dozens of officers and detectives met to divide up fliers and routes to cover, knock on doors, and ask for clues.

"We've had tremendous success in the past with these canvases," said Capt. Paul Guerrucci, commander of APD's Homicide Unit. "Pretty much every one that we've done has helped us further our investigation one way or another up to and including actual identification of individuals involved."

Menefee, a father of four, "went above and beyond when it came to kids' birthdays, kids on the holidays ... he was all about his kids," said sister Tiffany Jones. He was growing two businesses, she said, a tax preparation firm and a record company.

"Those that knew R.J., if they ever needed anything, he was there," said family friend Cassie Evans.

Murder victim R.J. Menefee was generous and well-known in Adamsville, said his friend Cassie Edwards and sister Tiffany Jones.
  • Maggie Lee
  • Murder victim R.J. Menefee was generous and well-known in Adamsville, said his friend Cassie Edwards and sister Tiffany Jones.
"Even though he gave him the money, they still took his life. ... They don't have respect for life, no morals, no values," said mom Belinda, pleading with anyone who has any information to contact the police.

Police have made some arrests in the case, but are looking for witnesses.

By about 5:30 p.m., police and neighbors were setting out by car, foot and hoof on their canvas. (The hooves belonging to the horses of the mounted patrol. The animals make good ambassadors, drawing kids out of houses and adults behind them.)

And the humans have something of an ambassador mission too. "We want the community to also understand that we just don't come out and do an investigation and leave," said Guerrucci. "We're here to put all individuals responsible for these violent acts in jail."

The other homicides on the officers' canvas are:

* 34-year-old Nicholas Andrew Hagood, found March 26, dead of a gunshot wound and victim of an apparent armed robbery.

* 21-year-old Rodney Walker, found March 9 dead of a gunshot wound at an apartment on Harwell Road.

* 35-year-old Antoniyo Lenard Wiggins, shot and killed March 22 on Martin Luther King Junior Drive.

Police ask anyone with tips to call Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

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