4 suspects charged with capital murder in deadly kidnapping of Columbus woman

Updated: Jul. 27, 2020 at 5:06 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A Columbus family is looking for answers after a kidnapping turned deadly Monday morning.

Four suspects are in custody and are accused of kidnapping 39-year-old Tameka Skinner from a Columbus apartment and leaving her body in Russell County.

Authorities said Skinner was shot and her body was found near Bush Road and Porter Road in Russell County around 11:30 a.m. A man was with Skinner when she was kidnapped in Columbus early Monday morning. Authorities said he was also assaulted, but not taken with her.

Demetria Johnson, Shaun Johnson, and Joshua Tolbert all of Columbus, and Jayvon Phillips of Seale, Alabama are charged with capital murder and kidnapping.

“I did not kill that girl or kidnap her. I’m not that type of person. I’ve got a son myself. I’m sorry to the family,” one of the suspects said as he was being taken from the Russell County Sheriff’s Office to the Russell County Jail.

Russell County Sheriff Health Taylor said Skinner knew at least one of the four suspects.

According to the Russell County Sheriff’s Office, they received a call from the Columbus Police Department about a kidnapping and assault that happened in the early morning hours at Huckleberry Hill Apartments on St. Mary’s Road in Columbus. A stolen vehicle, believed to be involved in the kidnapping, had possibly been located in Russell County.

While deputies were on the way to look for the vehicle, they located a suspicious vehicle off the roadway. When Russell County deputies attempted to stop the vehicle, a chase began on Highway 169 to Wetumpka, Alabama. The chase ended in Wetumpka with the suspects being taken into custody. Taylor said they recovered a handgun after the wreck that is being sent for forensic testing.

Authorities recovered the victim’s vehicle in Seale, Alabama between Porter Road and Bush Road. Taylor said it appears the suspects tried to burn Skinner’s car and hide it, but were unsuccessful. According to the sheriff, the car only sustained a little bit of damage. He sayid they later found Skinner’s body in a wooded area within a few miles of where her car was recovered.

“Both sides of the river and our district attorney’s office will do everything in its power to bring these people to justice that committed this horrible crime,” Taylor said.

Skinner’s loved ones waited at the Russell County Sheriff’s Office Monday morning as authorities searched for her.

“I just appreciate God for her friendship as a niece,” said Robert Jones, Skinner’s uncle.

The search came to a tragic ending.

“Here, we all collapsed in the room. I just fell to the carpet and everybody collapsed and when I came to, I noticed the room was kind of scattered. We just emotionally, mentally could not deal with it. Could not deal with it,” Jones said.

Jones said the hardworking mother of two teenage daughters loved to sing and dance at church.

“Tameka was a friendly person,” said Skinner’s uncle. “Very joyful, humorous and caring, and God-fearing woman of God. She was my niece and she was raised by a God-fearing father-in-law, Bishop Skinner, a dear friend of mine.”

Bishop Larry Skinner was the founder of Bread of Life Christian Center in Columbus. He died July 17 and will be laid to rest this Friday.

According to Sheriff Heath Taylor, the motive appears to be jealousy. Johnson had children with Pettway, the victim’s boyfriend.

[Demetria] Johnson recruited the three other men to help her with the kidnapping and killing of Skinner “to get her out of the way,” according to Sheriff Taylor.

This is an ongoing investigation.