Warner Robins police charge man in 1989 cold case | News
Warner Robins police chief Brett Evans and Houston County district attorney George Hartwig announced they've solved a cold case from 1989.
They say they've indicted James Milton Happoldt in the killing of James Runyon and Daniel Easler, who both died of multiple gun shot wounds in a shed behind Runyon's home.
13WMAZ's Jennifer Moulliet went to that home on Sunset Drive in Warner Robins where the murders took place 25 years ago.
Eighty-one year old Joan Cumpton was in her mid 50's when her neighbor, Jimmy, and his friend were murdered right next door. She remembers getting a phone call from a worried wife, because her husband hadn't returned home. She asked Cumpton's husband, Pierce, to check on her husband.
"He went over there and of course he saw the boys shot laying in their pools of blood, and came back real shaky and said I think those boys are dead next door," says Crumpton.
She says that's when they called the police. "There was a forensic truck and police, there was just a big crowd out there," says Crumpton.
Pam Ingram says, "You'd ride by and there was tape around it but I never realized until I moved in that this was that house." Ingram moved into James Runyon's house about ten years ago.
"I was a little worried when I first moved in and found out it happened here," says Ingram .
Although the case went cold for 25 years, she says everyone in the neighborhood knew James Milton Happoldt was at fault.
"Apparently he walked through that gate and just shot them both," says Ingram.
Tuesday the case heated up.
"We did a follow up investigation, reinterviewed a number of people that are still around," says District Attorney George Hartwig.
He announced Happoldt's indictment for two counts of malice murder and two counts of felony murder in the shooting deaths of Cumpton's neighbor James Runyon and his friend Daniel Easler.
"It makes us very proud that we have detectives throughout the years that have diligently worked on cases like this, that don't just get placed on a shelf to collect dust," says Warner Robins police chief Brett Evans.
Cumpton remembers her kind neighbor who was an avid carpenter. "He built me a set of steps so I could get on the top shelves of my plant stands, he was just a nice guy," says Crumpton.
She hopes this indictment will finally close the chapter that's been open for a quarter of a century.
District Attorney George Hartwig would not discuss the evidence in the case or say if any one thing led them to the indictment.
He says he looks forward to presenting the evidence they have against James Milton Happoldt in court.
Happoldt is currently serving a life sentence for a murder committed in Monroe County in 1994.
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