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Slaying suspect gets new charges

Authorities have filed additional charges against a man who they say strangled a Thomson woman this month, officials said Tuesday.

samuels.jpg

Danny Lee Samuels: Suspect in Thomson woman's strangling is now charged with rape and burglary.
Special
Danny Lee Samuels, 29, now has been charged with rape and burglary counts in addition to a murder charge in the death of Barbara Hefner, 53, said Mike Seigler, the agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Thomson office.

Ms. Hefner was found dead March 6 in Folly Lake, off Interstate 20 between U.S. Highway 78 and Georgia Highway 150.

Agent Seigler said he could not get into the specifics of the rape and burglary charges, but he said charges came after police matched DNA evidence collected at the scene with samples in a state and national DNA database.

Under Georgia law, individuals convicted and processed into the state's corrections system must submit their DNA for the registry.

According to the Georgia Department of Corrections Web site, Mr. Samuels was released from Rivers State Prison, a medium-security prison in Hardwick, Ga., in August 2001.

He had been convicted of burglary and firearms charges during the 1990s.

"The (Atlanta GBI) crime lab did an excellent job on this," Agent Seigler said.

"I can't say enough about them."

He said there are still "a lot of gaps to be filled" in the investigation, and that officials are still trying to figure out why Ms. Hefner was targeted.

Mr. Samuels worked at the same facility, Augusta Coating & Manufacturing, as Ms. Hefner, but Agent Seigler said investigators had no indication that they were in contact with one another at work.

Agent Seigler also said GBI agents and McDuffie County sheriff's deputies had ruled out a rumor that a co-worker had made threats to Ms. Hefner.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.



Web posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004


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