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Police arrest co-worker in slaying

Authorities arrested a Thomson man during the weekend in connection with the strangulation death of a former co-worker who was found dead March 6 in a Thomson lake.

Danny Lee Samuels, 29, of the 100 block of Shanks Street, was arrested Friday afternoon and charged with murder in the death of Barbara Hefner, 53, of Thomson, said McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall.

Mr. Samuels was arrested at about 1:30 p.m. while working his shift at Augusta Coating & Manufacturing, Sheriff Marshall said Saturday.

Beyond confirming that Ms. Hefner worked at the same facility as Mr. Samuels, Sheriff Marshall wouldn't disclose any details, including what led to Mr. Samuels' arrest or what the motive might have been.

Ms. Hefner's brother, David Oliphant, 33, of Thomson, said the family is relieved that a suspect has been identified in his sister's death.

"We were wanting to know what was going on, and they reassured us that they were doing the best they could," said Mr. Oliphant, an electrician who described his sister as a mother figure, considering their 20-year age difference.

During the past two weeks, the McDuffie County Sheriff's Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have been part of an intense investigation leading to an arrest in the death of the divorced woman who lived on Whiteoak Road.

Ms. Hefner worked for four years as a material manager at Augusta Coating & Manufacturing, formerly called Blue Dot, which produces canopy tops and windshields for golf carts, a company Web site states.

"Words can't describe how we feel," said Mr. Oliphant, who said his close-knit family credits Sheriff Marshall and GBI Investigators Mike Seigler and Doug Parker for "an outstanding job."

Ms. Hefner disappeared from her home March 6 and was reported missing after relatives found her home empty and ransacked.

Her body was found floating in Folly Lake near Interstate 20, and an autopsy revealed she had been strangled.

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.



Web posted on Sunday, March 21, 2004


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