How the racial-motivated bloodless case homicide of young Black man solved after many years later


After his physique used to be found, sheriff’s deputies went door to door in Griffin, attempting to pick out Coggins. Eventually, they knocked on his sister’s door.

Coggins’ brother, Tyrone Coggins, stated his dying took a heavy toll on the family.

“We had been shocked. We’re like, ‘Who would damage this guy?’” he said. “You know, this was once Tim. This used to be the clean guy. The man that by no means afflicted nobody. Always helped somebody.”

His sister, Telisa Coggins, remembers her brother Tim as anyone who was once very candy and outgoing. He was once the sort of individual “who may want to get alongside with anybody,” she said.

In fact, she had been at the People’s Choice membership with him the night time he disappeared. She stated she remembered a white female began going to the membership and she idea her brother used to be educating the female how to dance that night. She stated she additionally remembered a white man searching for her brother and that identical white man on foot out of the membership with him as she went to the restroom.

“By the time I obtained out the door, they used to be gone,” she said.

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The sheriff’s workplace and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) gathered proof and carried out a couple of interviews in the Coggins case, however weeks became into months and no arrests have been made.

Gates, who was once an energetic sheriff’s deputy in the '80s, stated he believes Coggins’ dying was once situated round the white lady and money. Notes from the officers who had been working the case at the time indicated their concept used to be Coggins had taken cash as phase of a drug deal. Coggins was once recognised for making small drug offers round town, authorities said.

Jordan, who used to be additionally an energetic sheriff’s deputy in the '80s, said, “We by no means realized the place the cash went to, however I can recall being informed that Tim used to be truely terrified, and he used to be desperately making an attempt to get up that money.”


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“I had no way of understanding that I dropped that boy off to his death,” stated former Spalding County sheriff deputy Jesse Gates in discussing the night time in 1983 when Coggins used to be ultimate seen.
Gates and Jordan labored the case for weeks till they began getting shut to discovering a suspect and had been taken off, Gates said. He stated he believes it was once anybody who lived in the trailer park close to the location the place Coggins used to be found.

“You had a lot of vicious human beings in that trailer park, and I knew any individual in that trailer park known as that sheriff,” Gates said.

Jordan stated he used to be advised the investigation had reached a “dead end,” whereas Gates stated he used to be advised “it wasn’t my job [to look into this case] due to the fact I was once a avenue deputy, and I wasn’t a so-called investigator.”

“I don’t assume the interest that ought to have been put on this case was once put on this case,” Jordan said. “Probably due to, you know, the colour [of his skin].”

Months gave way to years, and then decades, besides any arrests.

The case sat dormant for 33 years.

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Then, in 2016, the Coggins case was once re-examined and new investigative leads commenced to emerge. GBI distinctive agent Jared Coleman, who was once assigned to reconsider the Tim Coggins’ case, stated he alerted the then newly-elected Spalding County sheriff Darrell Dix when he idea he had a new lead.

Dix didn’t hesitate to take a sparkling look.

“My motivation to resolve this case except a doubt is the reality that it is the proper factor to do,” Dix said. “I trust that there is a lot of honor worried in doing it, and I prefer to provide closure to the Coggins family. I wanna let Timothy Coggins relaxation in peace. And through doing that, it's doing the proper thing.”

Dix stated that in the years in view that the murder, some of the proof that had been amassed had long past missing. But he stated officers located some thing that gave them perception into the Spalding County Sheriff’s Department and the neighborhood police branch at the time Tim Coggins was once killed.

“We had been searching in all places that we could, and we went to the place there are some historic property archived downtown,” Dix said. “And whilst we had been searching for stuff dealing with the case, we got here up with this small black notebook.”

The pocket book grew to become out to be the diary a former sheriff’s deputy stored in the 1980s. His writings particular how he had infiltrated the neighborhood Ku Klux Klan to accumulate facts and realized the KKK may have infiltrated the police departments. One entry, dated Thursday, May 20, 1982, stated that one of the nearby KKK leaders boasted about having “a range of accurate Klan in the police and sheriff's departments."

"At this factor undecided of who to trust. Will attempt and locate out who in the branch is Klan," the entry continued.

Dix stated it spoke to the local weather in the location at the time. The diary had been written about a yr earlier than Coggins’ physique used to be found, he said.

“Racist white guys essentially managed the city, ran the organizations and you had these elected officers that had been racist white guys that exceptionally a good deal managed everything,” stated Cynthia Ward, a metropolis commissioner who is additionally Coggins’ cousin. “A younger Black man being killed-- that used to be no longer essential to them and they didn’t care about bringing the media in to see what befell due to the fact it was once simply every other Black individual dead.”

In re-examining the case, GBI specific agent Coleman located that a convicted infant molester felon named Christopher Vaughn, had come ahead to the GBI in 2007, announcing he had facts on who killed Coggins.

Coleman stated Vaughn had been interviewed via regulation enforcement a few instances in the previous however that nothing was once performed with the information.

After interviewing Vaughn on April 26, 2017, Coleman became his interest to Frank Gebhardt and William "Bill" Moore Sr., two neighborhood guys nearby authorities stated have been regarded to have “intimidating” reputations.

“Mr. Moore and Mr. Gebhardt each have an good sized crook records and Mr. Gebhardt had been interviewed lower back in 1983, however no actual in addition investigative acts pursued in the investigation,” Coleman said. “Christopher Vaughn lived at a residence that was once proper at the nook of Carey’s Mobile Home Park, which is the remaining regarded region that Timothy Coggins was once viewed alive.”

Vaughn advised Coleman that Gebhardt had instructed him Coggins was once having intercourse with his female friend at the time, Ruth Elizabeth Guy, additionally recognised as "Mickey," and that’s why Gebhardt and Moore killed him. Coleman stated they consider the white lady Coggins danced with at the membership the night time he was once final considered used to be the identical woman, Ruth.

“That was once the tipping factor for the murder,” stated Coleman. “We do understand that a week or two weeks after the homicide occurred, that Mickey Guy left the nation of Georgia. But she died in 2010.”

Dix cautioned human beings who knew Gebhardt and Moore again then have been scared to come ahead for worry of repercussions.

“So when matters like this happened, humans have been scared to discuss about what had happened,” Dix said. “They had been scared to discuss about what they knew due to the fact they have been in concern of retribution. They had been afraid that these humans had been gonna come kill them or kill someone in their families, due to the fact that’s the kind of reputations these human beings had.”

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Gebhardt was once interviewed through Coleman in 2017. At the time, Gebhardt used to be incarcerated on unrelated charges, and throughout his interview, he denied ever listening to about Coggins’ homicide or even understanding the victim.

Gebhardt’s sister, Sandra Bunn, stated each her brother and Moore denied having whatever to do with the Coggins murder.

“He [Gebhardt] informed me, ‘I don’t have nothing to discuss about, and I recognize nothing,’” Bunn said. ‘Both of them says they understand nothing.”

But Dix stated they determined to reveal Gebhardt’s jail telephone calls with Bunn -- she used to be the one he known as the most.

During one of these calls, Bunn was once heard telling her brother, “Keep your mouth shut. Y’all agree to no [DNA] tests. Y’all agree to nothing.” She recommended her brother to keep away from giving the investigators his DNA via skill such as accepting drinks, which would switch his saliva.

In the end, Dix got a courtroom order to get a DNA pattern from Gebhardt.

“I have by no means had this plenty bother out of one sheriff in my life, and I’ve been residing right here all my life,” stated Bunn. “Never had I had this a great deal trouble. Darrell Dix is enjoying the media to do this -- to make him seem to be good, to get the Black votes -- and they just listening to Darrell Dix’s side. They listening to nothing else.”

In an uncommon move, Dix stated the sheriff’s branch instructed the media in 2017 that they have been shut to making an arrest in the Coggins case even even though they nevertheless wanted greater evidence. Their hope was once that it would motivate greater humans to come ahead with statistics that may want to lead to an arrest.

Their “gamble,” as Dix referred to as it, paid off.

One of these humans was once Shirley Sisk, who managed the trailer park the place Moore had lived. In an interview with investigators, Sisk stated one night time in the ‘80s, she was once speakme with Brenda Moore, his spouse and Gebhardt’s sister, who she stated sounded drunk. According to Sisk, Brenda Moore informed her that her husband and brother had been planning to kill a man.

“She said, ‘I’m telling you, he’s gonna kill him. They’re gonna tie him up and they’re gonna drag him with a vehicle or truck,’” Sisk stated all through an interview with investigators. “And I’m going, ‘Brenda, get your inebriated ‘A’ over there and go to bed.’ You know, a under the influence of alcohol person, you simply don’t know.

You truly brush them off when you’ve received so many tenants, you truly do,” she continued. “And you don’t wanna accept as true with none of that but it used to be some thing about a boy. Well, it is countless times, probably. I'm questioning numerous times, due to the fact Frankie was once constantly gonna beat up somebody.”

Willard Sanders, Gebhardt’s neighbor, additionally got here ahead to inform authorities that Gebhardt had informed him quickly after the homicide that he had chained Coggins to the truck, however it used to be Moore who’d killed him. Sanders stated he pronounced Gebhardt to the authorities at the time. 

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