CHATSWORTH, Ga. — Law enforcement officials provided little new information at a press conference in Murray County on Monday concerning Friday’s death of 54-year-old Donnie Charles, which led to the arrest of Eric Stewart of Calhoun for murder and concealing the death of another.
But officials with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Murray County Sheriff’s Office said the help of people in the Resaca community assisted investigators in making a quick arrest.
“The community was so involved out there,” GBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joe Montgomery said. “Mr. Charles didn’t have a lot of money, but Mr. Charles was one of those people that what little he did have, he gave to the community. That helped a lot. The community stepping forward and going out of their way speaks volumes, too.”
Charles’ body was discovered behind his home at 1263 Sexton Road and first reported to Murray County 911 by family members around 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Murray County Chief Deputy Jimmy Davenport said officials contacted the GBI for assistance.
According to a press release from the GBI announcing Stewart’s arrest, witnesses said Stewart, 26, had been camping behind Charles’ home. During a search of the property near the home, the campsite was found with bloody items belonging to both Charles and Stewart.
“(We) started processing the scene and developing more information, neighborhood canvasses and interviewing more people, and that was when Eric Stewart came up in this,” Montgomery said. “Sheriff (Gary) Langford and Chief Deputy Davenport located him and were able to speak with him, and later as more evidence came in, we were able to charge him with murder and concealing the death of another.”
The GBI press release indicated that fewer than two hours had passed from the time of the discovery of Charles’ body to Stewart's arrest.
“You are talking about from the time the body was discovered, by lunchtime we already had someone in jail and in custody for this murder,” Montgomery said. “That speaks volumes on this relationship (between the two law enforcement agencies) and the ability we have to work together and come to a successful resolution for this family.”
Montgomery declined to comment on a motive, but did say Charles and Stewart knew each other and Charles had allowed Stewart to stay at his home earlier this year.
Stewart’s arrest came a day after he was released from the Gordon County jail. Montgomery said Stewart had been in jail on a misdemeanor shoplifting charge.
Montgomery would not comment on a cause of death or if a weapon was recovered.
“We only have preliminary results right now, and I really don’t want to go into it until the autopsy is completed,” Montgomery said. “But it is a homicide.”
Stewart is being held without bond in the Murray County jail. Charles' body was taken to the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office.