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Timothy Coggins

Over 30 years later, five people arrested in 1983 ‘racially motivated’ murder

In 1983, 23-year-old Timothy Coggins was found dead in Sunnyside, Georgia. Police launched an investigation that soon went cold, but, now, 34 years later, five people have been arrested for his murder.

The Spalding County Sheriff’s Office said Coggins was found “brutally murdered” in a grassy area near some power lines on October 9, 1983, NBC News reports. His cause of death hasn’t been released, but sheriff Darrell Dix said at a news conference on Friday that the body showed signs of trauma.

Investigators at the time spoke with people who knew Coggins, but Dix said the case went cold. It wouldn’t be reopened again for three decades.

In March of this year, new evidence surfaced in the case, causing Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and Spalding County to reopen it. Dix declined to say what the evidence was, but did say that more and more tips began to pour in once his office announced they were re-examining the case.

On Friday, five people were arrested in connection with Coggins’ murder, including two police officers.

Frankie Gebhardt, 59, and Bill Moore, Sr., 58, each were charged with a slew of crimes, including aggravated assault and murder.

Frankie Gebhardt and Bill Moore, Sr.

Gregory Huffman, 47, a detention officer with the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, was charged with obstruction and violation of oath of office. He was fired after being arrested.

Gregory Huffman, Sandra Bunn, and Lamar Bunn

Lamar Bunn, a police officer in Milner, Georgia, was also charged with obstruction and violation of oath of office. His mother, Sandra Bunn, was also arrested and charged with obstruction.

Dix didn’t release many details on the murder, but he did call it a “heinous” crime.

“There is no doubt in the minds of all investigators involved that the crime was racially motivated and that if the crime happened today it would be prosecuted as a hate crime.”

All five suspects are white, and Coggins was black.

Dix also said that the case has been an “emotional roller coaster for everybody that was involved” and that Friday morning “started the lifting of a burden,” according to The New York Times.

Heather Coggins, the victim’s niece, said at the new conference that her family, especially her grandmother, held out for justice all this time.

“She knew this day would one day come. The worst is over.”

Gebhardt and Moore were both denied bond and remain in jail. Huffman was being held on a $25,000 bond for the violation of oath of office and $10,000 for obstruction. Lamar and Sandra were both released Friday night on $706.75 bond.

[Feature Photo: Spalding County Sheriff’s Office]