Muscogee Co. Coroner weighs in on a deadly year in the Valley

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - With time to reflect on 2016, it has been a deadly year for the Chattahoochee Valley.

It started in early January with the brutal murder of three family members in Upatoi, which led to a widespread investigation. Raheam Gibson, Jervarceay Tapley, and Rufus Burks are all accused of breaking into Gloria Short's Upatoi home, killing her, her son Caleb Short, and her 11-year-old granddaughter, Gianna Lindsey.

Numbers show there have been more homicides this year, compared to 2015, but in the last four years, the numbers have ranged from 22 to 26 homicides in Muscogee County and 2016 falls along that pattern.

However, Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan says, while the numbers have generally stayed the same, the nature of the homicides has changed.

"I don't know what we can expect to change, to be honest with you," said Bryan.

This year alone, a cab driver was shot and killed over petty cash. There was also a beloved member of the community with special needs, Deonn Carter who was assaulted while getting mail, along with other attacks officials are calling senseless.

LIST: 2016 Homicides for Columbus, GA

"I'd just like for the citizens of Columbus to keep those families in their prayers. It's a tragic thing to be notified that a loved one has died violently, unexpectedly," said Bryan. 

Bryan also says he hopes to ring in the New Year on a positive and safe note, but if this year follows tradition, that might not be the case. "We're right here at the end of the year and unfortunately we have New Year's Eve coming up, and every year for the last four years that I know of, we've had a homicide on New Year's Eve."

WTVM also reached out to Chief Ricky Boren with the Columbus Police Department. Officials with his office tell News Leader 9 they're waiting until the first few weeks of January to release total crime numbers, not just homicides.

Copyright WTVM 2016. All rights reserved.