SPECIAL REPORT: Cold Case Justice

SPECIAL REPORT: Cold Case Justice
(Source: WTVM/WXTX)
(Source: WTVM/WXTX)

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - The city of Columbus has about 70 unsolved murders, dating back four decades.

In our special report "Cold Case Justice," our Roslyn Giles talks with two families desperate for answers.

On January 4, 1998 before the crack of dawn, gunshots were heard outside the then Peabody Apartments off Talbotton Road in Columbus.

"I feel like we deserve answers if nothing else, we deserve to feel like why you felt so entitled to take her life," said Tanja Brown, whose mother Laura Chaney was killed in 1998.

With tears rolling down her face, Brown hopes her mother's killer is listening.

"There's nothing I can fathom that my mom could have did to anybody to make them want to kill her, nothing," Brown said.    

On a rainy day, Chaney's family recently met us at the crime scene. They're speaking out for the very first time since her tragic death nearly 18 years ago, crying out for justice.

"And not come forward and know that you did and she had seven lil' babies," added Chaney's sister Mary Harris.   

Chaney's children were between 17 and five years old when she was taken away from them. Brown was the oldest child.

Harris took most of the children in. They're all grown up now, but the vivid memory of that dreadful day still lingers. 

"At time, my daughter was one, I was doing her hair and I dropped her on the floor because I was in such a state of shock," Brown said.

"I said grandmother where's my mom, she said again baby your mom has passed, she is dead and I said, no that's impossible – who would do something like that to her?" said Tara Davis, who was 14 when her mother was killed.

"Every day is a test and trial for me," said Tempsett Chaney, who was 10 when her mother was killed. "Some days I can get passed it and think on the positive and some days I can't"

It's obvious Chaney's family loved her deeply, and what they want most is closure.

Police say a gunman shot Chaney around 5 a.m. that morning. Her body found face down from several gunshot wounds in front of apartment 1-10 at the Peabody Apartments, now Ashley Station.

"I have evidence, I just don't know what's important until someone makes it important," said Sergeant Randy Long with the Columbus Police Department's Cold Cases Division.

To protect the integrity of the case, Sgt. Long says he can't reveal that evidence.

"It's important for people who know something, when they tell me something, I'll know for sure if they know what's happened," Sgt. Long said.  

As Sgt. Long tries to track down Chaney's killer, he's also working another cold case file – Brenda Lowe's senseless murder.

The 51-year-old woman was bludgeoned to death inside her own apartment on Thomas Street near Rigdon Road.

"There was a horrible struggle, lot of blood, the stench was horrible – this has been a long three-year ordeal," said Regina Chambliss, Lowe's niece-in-law.

Chambliss was there when the landlord opened the door to Lowe's apartment. 

"...from where she was the position she was in it just seems like she was trying to make it out of there," Chambliss said.

Officials say Lowe was stabbed to death and according to the incident report, she was killed sometime between Saturday, Jan. 5 and Tuesday Jan. 8 2013.

The family members say they last saw Lowe that Saturday. Back then, we interviewed Lowe's yard man Alrich Boner who had a different take on the timeline.

"The girl came home, she went to play a lottery number and she came back home and I saw her yesterday at about 2 o'clock," Boner said.

Like in the Chaney and Lowe cases, the leads are cold, and so are the murder investigations.

Kollister Williams and Johnny Love Williams, a 19-year-old, was shot and killed back in 2007 at 5th Avenue and 5th Street.

Johnny Shaw, 63, was stabbed to death in 1996 inside his apartment in the 1500 block of 23rd Street.

However, police say all it takes is just one person with one seemingly small detail that could help them put the missing pieces of the puzzle together in all of these cases.

It would bring some sort of closure to the hurting families of Laura Chaney and Brenda Lowe by taking the killers off the streets and behind bars.

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