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Five more arrests made in double homicide investigation, warrants reveal more details

A report from the arrests of three men confirm details about how two Rome women died before their bodies were dumped over a bridge.

The details emerged as more people were jailed Friday in the wake of the investigation.

Once the bodies of Vanita Nicole Richardson and Truvenia Clarece Campbell had been dropped over the side of the bridge, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation affidavit stated the three men then took Richardson’s gold Toyota Corolla to Fulton County where they burned it.

Desmond Lavonta Brown, 28; Devin Lashawn Watts, 36; and Christopher Leedarius Pullen, 23, have all been charged with murder as well as theft and abandonment of a dead body. All three men had been previously arrested and were being held without bond at the Floyd County Jail.

The GBI was called in by Rome police to investigate the killings of Richardson and Campbell — half-sisters whose bodies were discovered off the East Rome Bypass on May 13.

Investigators determined the two were shot to death sometime between the evening of May 12 and the morning of May 13 before being dropped over the side of the Etowah River Bridge on the bypass with bags over their heads.

Richardson and Campbell were last seen alive in Richardson’s 1997 gold Toyota Corolla during the evening of May 12. The car was later found burned in Fulton County.

There were several arrests made on Friday resulting from the investigation.

♦ On Friday, agents arrested Kayra Vinnette Morgan-Edwards, 28, on felony false statements and writings and concealment of facts. She is accused of lying and concealing information from GBI agents during the investigation. Edwards is a former jail officer with the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office. She was terminated on April 18, 2019, according to jail records.

♦ Julie Ann Satterfield, 38, was also arrested Friday on a felony charge of making false statements, meth possession as well as possession of drug-related objects.

♦ Dion Lavarius Wade, 27, is charged with felony false statements and writings, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of ecstasy.

♦ Jatavious Markel Smith, 26, is charged with felony possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of more than one ounce of marijuana with intent to distribute. Smith is accused of having a .38 caliber Taurus revolver as well as marijuana in a 2007 Chevy Tahoe on May 18 at a Branham Avenue address.

♦ Devion Tremaine Neal, 26, is charged with felony false statements and writings as well as possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He is also charged with possession of drug-related objects.

♦ One man was arrested on July 17. Alec Heath Brogdon, 18, is charged with selling a stolen Glock .380 pistol to Watts back in May.

However, Brown, Watts and Pullen were all originally arrested on different charges and then charged with murder this past Thursday.

Police arrested Brown and Watts a few days after the women’s bodies were found, following searches conducted at the Callier Forest Apartments on Dodd Boulevard on May 18 and 19.

Brown was originally charged with misdemeanor obstruction of law enforcement officers. He was released on bond and then arrested in Bartow County on drug charges a few days later. Watts was originally arrested on a charge of being a convicted felon in the possession of a stolen firearm and theft charges. Pullen was arrested this past Friday on drug possession charges and a probation warrant.

County approves new payment plan for first responders and 911, will go into effect Oct. 1

The County Commission gave the green light to a new payment plan for law enforcement officers, as well as firefighters and 911 dispatchers, to help retain employees.

“I think it’s time that we defend our police and fund our police,” Chair Scotty Hancock said.

County Manager Jamie McCord and Hancock said this is something they’ve been looking at doing for quite some time and the county has made adjustments over the years, but hasn’t put together a new plan in several years.

Currently, starting pay for Floyd County Sheriff’s Office and Floyd County Police Department employees is $31,701.

When the new plan goes into effect, starting pay for law enforcement will be raised to $38,000. However, this can be raised based on the person’s credentials, with a maximum starting pay of $42,000. McCord and county administration would still have to finalize details, but plan to have the new plan go into effect by Oct. 1.

To help compensate for the increase in pay, commissioners are looking at increasing the millage rate for the county, but haven’t made a decision on the new numbers yet. They plan to make a final decision at a called meeting on Aug. 5.

During the meeting, the commissioners discussed the competitive pay from surrounding counties and increasing troubles with keeping police departments fully staffed.

Currently the Floyd County Police Department is down eight positions and Chief Mark Wallace said he’s got high hopes this measure will help them recruit and retain officers.

In the past, he said, pay raises have been instituted by the police departments, but this time it was different.

“This time it was the county manager and county commission,” Wallace said. “The fact that they thought enough our public safety community to take the initiative to do this speaks volumes.”

Retaining trained officers who leave for higher pay in surrounding counties has been a problem for a long while, Wallace said. He praised the foresight of commissioners for taking care of a problem now, rather than waiting until it because a serious problem.

Commissioner Allison Watters pointed out in the meeting that while the pay rate has been historically lower, the departments have good benefits. County employees get health insurance, vacation and sick leave.

Both the sheriff’s office and Floyd police have longevity pay for their officers who stay on longer than a year and is adjusted as the years go on.

“Not many things aren’t incentivized and the base rate can be a small amount compared to what you take home annually,” McCord said.

Floyd County Sheriff Tim Burkhalter praised the commissioners for taking a stand and helping law enforcement.

“They’ll take some heat for doing it, but it’s needed to be addressed for quite some time,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to have a commission that stands by us law enforcement.”

The fire department’s costs are split between the city and county governments. Earlier this week city’s public safety committee recommended giving fire department employees a raise, a measure applauded by Rome Fire Chief Troy Brock.