Former Columbus radio personality murdered outside his home - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Former Columbus radio personality murdered outside his home

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victim: David Rutherford, 57 (source: family) victim: David Rutherford, 57 (source: family)
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

The retired radio personality turned taxi driver was gone for most of the day, his car still parked in the driveway. People who live near David Rutherford's home on 28th Street knew something was strange when someone found the keys to his cab lying on the ground.  His roommate, Craig Lewis, immediately became suspicious. 

"One of our neighbors found his keys out here, but stuff that he would normally have on him whenever he drove the cab was inside the house: his cell phone, cigarettes, GPS," said Lewis. 

Less than fifteen minutes after that discovery, the mystery of his disappearance was solved. His former co-worker at Magic 101.3 recalls how he learned the news. 

"I just saw Dave last week at Budget Car Sales, I was doing a remote.  We were reminiscing about the Blues, and now I'm just shook.  His stepfather called me last night from the house and said they found Dave dead over by a church, and we were all shattered, especially in the broadcast community," said Edgar Champagne. 

Rutherford's body was lying in plain sight in the parking lot of a church on Talbotton Road. Investigators said he was the victim of a violent murder. Lewis met his roommate while riding in his cab. Lewis mentioned to Rutherford he was being evicted and Rutherford offered to let him stay at his house.  That was two years ago.  The last time Lewis saw him, he was getting ready to go to work.

"He never talked about it as being dangerous.  Sometimes he would have a fare that was a jerk, but nothing that he couldn't handle, we'll put it that way," said Lewis. 

People who live nearby suspect Rutherford was the victim of a robbery outside his house and the killer(s) moved his body to the church.  Police have not confirmed those details and they are still investigating a motive. 

"I heard stuff but I didn't see anything at that time, between 12:30 and 1 o'clock, I heard somebody talking about 'Give me the money' and all kinds of stuff like that, and that was it," said his long-time friend and neighbor, James Crouch. 

"They wouldn't have had to do that.  Not to Dave they wouldn't.  Because whatever they asked for, he would have given it to them," said his cousin, Marvin Rutherford.  The two were sitting in his cab reading a newspaper only the day before his death. 

It's a tragedy all too similar to the murder of Heath Jackson, a radio personality for 88.5 The Truth who was shot to death during a robbery in his home.  His killer was brought to justice only one month ago. 

Prior to working in Columbus, Rutherford worked at WFDR in Manchester, Georgia and also spent time at radio stations in Miami and Washington D.C. He was known on air by his stage name, Dave Ford.

He followed in the footsteps of his father, Rudy "The Deuce" Rutherford, who is in the Black Radio Hall of Fame.  He was the first African-American in the South to host a television show. It was called "Rock'n With The Deuce and it aired on WTVM in 1958.  Both Rutherford and his father coincidentally died at the same age: 57.

David Rutherford, originally lived in New Jersey. His cousin, Marvin, recalls how he ended up in Columbus.

"He came down to his sister's wedding one summer, and I think the weather was real rough up there.  So, when he got down here, the weather was so nice, he just stayed.  He was a real nice guy.  I never knew him to get upset about anything.  He just had an easy-going demeanor."

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