Three days of searching an Oglethorpe County pond just over the county line produced possible evidence tied to an unsolved 2002 Madison County murder.
According to Captain Mike Benner, chief deputy of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement officials including sheriff’s office investigators, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and a Hall county dive team turned up a single “item of evidence” likely linked to the murder of Willie Frank Smith, 46, of Athens. Officers were acting on a tip provided by an informant.
Smith’s body was found by a passerby on the morning of Sept. 15, 2002, lying next to a vehicle parked on the side of Helican Springs Road near the Clarke County border.
A suspect in the case, Henry M. Bolton, Jr. was indicted the following month on charges of murder and possession of a firearm by a Madison County grand jury.
Charges were dropped four years later, in 2006, because no gun was found, Benner said.
Law enforcement officials are now waiting for results from the GBI crime lab before they elaborate further on the specifics of what was found.
The item found Wednesday has been sent to the GBI crime lab for analysis.
Now Bolton, who spent some time in a state facility, is currently incarcerated in the Madison County Jail on unrelated charges, including of obstruction of an officer, interference with government property and disorderly conduct, which were allegedly committed while he was incarcerated at the jail in 2006.