A two-time convicted felon has been charged with the murder and rape of a 53-year-old Thomson woman, authorities said earlier this week.
Thomson's Dannie Lee Samuels, 29, of the 100 block of Shank Street was arrested late last week and charged with the murder of Whiteoak Road resident Barbara Hefner, but charges of rape and burglary were added earlier this week.
Special Agent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Mike Seigler said that DNA evidence taken from the scene of the crime was what initially pointed authorities in the direction of Mr. Samuels.
"That is what alerted us to the suspect," he said. "(The evidence) was entered into the CODIS databank, and we got a match on the suspect."
CODIS, or Coordinated DNA Index System, is a shared federal and state databank that holds DNA profiles of anyone sentenced to time in prison. Because Mr. Samuels served time in 1993 for burglary and in 1997 for the illegal possession of a firearm, his DNA profile was in the databank.
When the evidence from the crime scene was run through CODIS, "We got a hit," said Mr. Seigler.
Mr. Samuels spent a total of four-and-a-half years serving two separate sentences stemming from the two charges, both of which were committed in McDuffie County.
While he has been charged with burglary, Mr. Seigler said that doesn't necessarily mean Mr. Samuels was trying to rob Ms. Hefner.
"In a burglary, entering a residence with the intent of committing a felony would constitute a burglary," he said. "In other words, it doesn't mean something has to be stolen in a burglary charge."
Mr. Samuels and Ms. Hefner were co-workers at Augusta Coating & Manufacturing. Mr. Seigler said that authorities were not releasing any details regarding a potential motive for the crimes.
Ms. Hefner was reported missing on March 6 after relatives found her home empty and ransacked. She was later found strangled to death in Folly Lake.