Wednesday, December 21, Eyewitness News at 6

7:20 PM, Dec 21, 2011   |    comments
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HELLO EVERYONE AND THANKS FOR JOINING US.... I'M LEAH JOHNSON..

AND I'M LORRA LYNCH JONES... THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX.

THE GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION SAYS THEY'VE SOLVED A 37-YEAR-OLD KILLING.
TODAY THEY ADDED 13-YEAR-OLD IMA JEAN SANDERS TO SERIAL KILLER.... PAUL JOHN KNOWLES' LIST OF VICTIMS.... NOW 18 IN ALL.

THEY SAY D-N-A EVIDENCE CONFIRMS THAT A BODY FOUND IN PEACH COUNTY IN 1976 WAS HERS...AND THE G-B-I BELIEVES KNOWLES KILLED HER.
RANDALL SAVAGE COVERED THE KNOWLES CASE IN THE 70s.. AND HE'S BEEN TRACKING TODAY'S DEVELOPMENTS..
RANDALL.. WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT PAUL JOHN KNOWLES?

KNOWLES WAS A 29-YEAR-OLD FLORIDA PAROLEE WHEN HE WENT ON A KILLING SPREE IN THE SPRING.. SUMMER AND FALL OF 1974.
DURING THAT TIME.. HE OFTEN STOPPED BY MACON TO VISIT A GIRL FRIEND.. AND SOMETIMES GAVE HER THINGS THAT HE'D STOLEN FROM HIS VICTIMS.
KNOWLES WAS ARRESTED IN GEORGIA...AND IN DECEMBER 19-74....A G-B-I AGENT SHOT AND KILLED HIM AS HE TRIED TO ESCAPE.
BUT KNOWLES HAD TAPE-RECORDED DETAILS OF HIS KILLINGS... AND FORMER U-S ATTORNEY RONALD KNIGHT SENT TRANSCRIPTS FROM THOSE TO AUTHORTIES WHO EVENTUALLY USED THEM TO CONNECT KNOWLES TO IMA JEAN SANDERS.
TODAY WE TALKED TO RONALD KNIGHT ABOUT THE CASE.

<< IN 1974....PAUL JOHN KNOWLES WAS CAPTURED NEAR ATLANTA....AFTER HE WRECKED HIS CAR TRYING TO AVOID A ROAD BLOCK.
THEY BROUGHT HIM TO THE BIBB COUNTY JAIL.. WHERE FEDERAL INVESTIGATORS TRIED TO PRY OUT INFORMATION ABOUT THE PEOPLE HE KILLED.
RONALD KNIGHT WAS THE U-S ATTORNEY THEN...AND HE STILL REMEMBERS KNOWLES DEMEANOR IN THE COURTROOM.
Ronald Knight, former U.S. Attorney: I'll never forget, he stared at me with these steel blue eyes. Boy it was just like rays coming through you, he was an extremly composed individual. He was not nervous at all.
KNIGHT SENT DETAILS TO AUTHORITIES IN THE AREAS WHERE KNOWLES ADMITTED KILLING PEOPLE.
ONE OF THOSE....WAS THE IMA JEAN SANDERS CASE.
SHE'S THE 13-YEAR-OLD HITCHHIKER....WHOSE BODY WAS FOUND IN THE WOODS OFF HIGHWAY 96 IN PEACH COUNTY.
Ronald Knight, former U.S. Attorney: I got a call yesterday from a GBI agent in Warner Robins...I wasn't surprised. There are other bones out there I'm sure.
AND KNIGHT'S SAYS ... HE'S PLEASED THAT KNOWLES DIED BEFORE HIS CASE REACHED HIS COURTROOM...ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THE NUMBER OF LIVES HE TOOK
Ronald Knight. former U.S. Attorney: I was just so thankful that we didn't have to put up with him, because he was a guy that certainly deserved whatever he got. And he knew it, he knew it was going to come. He talked about it, in the tapes, that he would eventually be killed.
AND KNIGHT SAYS KNOWLES WAS A PRECISE CRIMINAL....WHO TRIED TO KILL POSSIBLE WITNESSES AGAINST HIM.
Ronald Knight, former U.S. Attorney: We think people who do this are crazy, nuts, and whatnot. This guy was extremely intelligent, extremely methodical, thought it all through and he set about to do exactly what he did.
>>

RANDALL... YOU COVERED THIS STORY IN THE 1970'S... WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER?

ONE THING I REMEMBER CAME DURING A BREAK IN A FEDERAL COURT HEARING.. I SIDLED UP TO THE DEFENSE TABLE WHERE KNOWLES WAS SEATED.. AND I ASKED HIM IF HE WAS BEING TREATED WELL IN JAIL.. HE LOOKED AT ME AND SAID.. IT'S HORRIBLE.. THEY WON'T GIVE ME NO BLANKETS.. NO SHEETS.. NO PILLOW.. I GOTTA SLEEP ON THAT OLD HARD BED.
THE AUTHORITIES SAW HE WAS TALKING TO A REPORTER.. SO THEY GRABBED HIM AND MOVED HIM TO A DETENTION AREA FOR THE REST OF THE BREAK.
TO MY KNOWLEDGE.. THAT 'S THE LAST TIME KNOWLES SPOKE TO A REPORTER.
BUT OTHER TIMES.. KNOWLES WOULD SEE ME IN THE COURTROOM.. HE'D ALWAYS SMILE AND NOD HIS HEAD.

THANK YOU RANDALL... LEAH?

THE G-B-I TODAY SAID D-N-A FROM SANDERS' FAMILY IN TEXAS....MATCHED THAT FROM THE REMAINS FOUND IN PEACH COUNTY 35 YEARS AGO.
THEY ALSO SAY PHYSICAL EVIDENCE MATCHED KNOWLES' STORY OF KILLING A YOUNG HITCH HIKER.
THE G-B-I NOW SAYS THEY'RE ... QUOTE.. REASONABLY CONFIDENT THAT KNOWLES KILLED THE GIRL.
IMA JEAN'S MOTHER.. BETTY WISECUP NOW LIVES IN BEAUMONT.. TEXAS.. WE COULD NOT REACH HER FOR COMMENT TODAY.

NEARLY HALF OF THE OFFICERS IN THE MACON POLICE DEPARTMENT HAVE LESS THAN FIVE YEARS EXPERIENCE ON THE FORCE...
POLICE CHIEF MIKE BURNS SAYS THAT POSES SOME CHALLENGES AND ALSO HAS ITS BENEFITS...
BRITTINY BARBER EXPLAINS...

<<
ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO... OFFICER JAMES LITTON DECIDED TO MAKE A CAREER CHANGE..
Litton: "This was something that I've always wanted to do. It just so happens may previous career just kind of happened."
AFTER 25 YEARS IN RADIO... HE SAYS HE WANTED TO TRY SOMETHING NEW...
nats of radio.
Litton: "I'm probably one of the older new guys and yea the department is young but it's a bunch of young guys who are happy to be here."
OF MACON'S POLICE FORCE... ALMOST HALF FALL IN WITH LITTON..... HAVING LESS THAN FIVE YEARS EXPERIENCE.. AND CHIEF MIKE BURNS SAYS 30 OFFICERS ARE IN THEIR FIRST YEAR ON THE JOB.
Burns: "Some of the disadvantages, they're going to make some mistakes based on inexperience. we try to use those as a learning experience for them."
BUT BURNS SAYS NEW BLOOD... ALSO BRINGS SOME BENEFITS...
Burns: "We don't have to hear as much of well that's how we used to do things. They're more open to new ideas new suggestions new ways to accomplish our tasks."
BURNS SAYS WHEN HE TOOK OVER IN 2005... THEY WERE 70 OFFICERS SHORT...
HE SAYS THE FORCE HAS GOTTEN YOUNGER... BY FILLING MOST OF THOSE POSITIONS... ALONG WITH VETERANS RETIRING AND OFFICERS LEAVING FOR VARIOUS REASON...
Burns: "once we started filling all our slots crime started coming down because we do have people who's more forward thinking now."
Litton: "I love what I do."
LITTON SAYS EVEN THOSE WITH LITTLE EXPERIENCE.. WORK HARD AND CONSIDER IT A HONOR TO WEAR THE BADGE....
Litton: That's our number one goal to protect our citizens. It's on our cars, protect and serve."
BRITTINY BARBER 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS

CHIEF BURNS SAYS THEY HAVE A GOOD BALANCE OF YOUNG AND VETERAN OFFICERS.
HE SAYS THEY HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO COULD RETIRE IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS.
HE SAYS IF THAT HAPPENS.... IT COULD CAUSE PROBLEMS.
YOU MAY RECOGNIZE OFFICER LITTON's VOICE... HE'S KNOWN AS CHRIS WILLIAMS.. AND DOES AFTERNOON RADIO ON 93-POINT-7..

A BIG CHANGE COULD BE COMING TO THE UNIONVILLE AND TINDALL HEIGHTS NEIGHBORHOODS IN MACON.

THE U-S DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IS GIVING A HALF MILLION DOLLAR FEDERAL GRANT TO HELP MERCER UNIVERSITY AND ITS PARTNERS TO COME UP WITH A PLAN.
THEY'LL FOCUS ON FOUR SCHOOLS: INGRAM-PYE AND HARTLEY ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS... BALLARD HUDSON MIDDLE SCHOOL AND SOUTHWEST HIGH SCHOOL.
PETER BROWN... WHO WILL HELP MANAGE THE GRANT FOR MERCER... SAYS THEY WANT TO HAVE PRE-NATAL CARE PROGRAMS... IN-SCHOOL TUTORING... AND SUMMER LEARNING CAMPS O IMPROVE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES.... AND KEEP STUDENTS ON THE COLLEGE TRACK.
ONE SOUTHWEST HIGH SENIOR SAYS SHE WOULD HAVE LOVED IT IF THOSE RESOURCES WERE THERE FOR HER.... WHEN SHE WAS GROWING UP.

Nykesia Lee, Southwest High Senior: If they have someone older, they know that's doing well, they'll know that I can do well too.

ORGANIZERS HAVE A YEAR TO COME UP WITH THE PLAN AND HOW TO MEASURE SUCCESS. THEN THEY CAN APPLY FOR A SECOND GRANT FROM THE U-S DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO PUT THE PLAN INTO ACTION.

ABOUT 100 CITY OF MACON EMPLOYEES WILL LOSE THEIR SENIORITY ONCE THEY'RE TRANSFERED TO WORK FOR BIBB COUNTY NEXT YEAR.
IT'S PART OF THE NEW SERVICE DELIVERY STRATEGY.
TODAY'S 13 WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL ASKS... SHOULD CITY OF MACON EMPLOYEES WHOSE JOBS ARE MOVING TO THE COUNTY KEEP THEIR SENIORITY?

SO FAR 85 PERCENT OF YOU SAY YES
AND 16 PERCENT OF YOU SAY NO.

TO VOTE NOW.. VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT 13 WMAZ DOT COM.. AND LOOK FOR THE WEB POLL QUESTION ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF OUR HOMEPAGE.

ben gives three day forecast

THANKS BEN.. WE'LL TALK WITH YOU AGAIN IN JUST A FEW MINUTES.

THE NEW YEAR IS LESS THAN TWO WEEKS AWAY.
STILL AHEAD... SHERRI GOSS WITH ROSENBERG FINANCIAL GROUP JOINS US TO TELL US IF IT'S TOO EARLY TO START PLANNING FOR 2012.

AS WE GO TO BREAK.. HERE'S A LOOK AT TODAY'S AVERAGE GAS PRICE IN MACON ACCORDING TO TRIPLE A.
WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

HUNDREDS PACKED INTO THE MACON CENTERPLEX FOR THE CITY'S FOURTH ANNUAL HOLIDAY LUNCHEON FOR SENIOR CITIZENS.
MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT HOSTED THE EVENT ALONG WITH SOME CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS.
CANDACE ADORKA SHOWS HAS MORE.

<<
Reichert: "This is a way that the city of Macon can express it's appreciation to our seniors for all that they have done to help build up the community in the past and all that they continue to do as mentors and grandparents and friends for the community today and all they will do in the future."
Clapping
Elaine Lucas: "This is just so fitting for us to be here to say thank you to all of you"
Emma Wilson: "I think that it's nice they take time to recognize the seniors that have been here all these years and let us know that they appreciate us and we just enjoy the occasion we get to see old friends and new faces."
Vernetha Bryant "The friendship, the camraderie, I mean it's just nice to be out even though it's a rainy day you can feel the joy."
Virgil Watkins: "869.... there we go!"
Bryant: "So excited. I won a door prize, it's very lovely I got a lantern."
Gwen Strong: "We have seniors form 50 years old to a hundred and they love to come out and we all love to eat too especially around Christmas time."
Plates
Bryant: "Oh delicious! I really enjoyed the meal. Got plenty to eat and now I have to go to the gym and work it off."
Louis Thompkins: "And I'm going to say happy holiday, happy Channukah, merry Christmas, and happy Kwanza."
>>

THE MACON TRANSIT AUTHORITY ARANGED TRANSPORTATION FOR MANY OF THE SENIORS... AND HANDED OUT ABOUT 50 RAFFLE PRIZES.
ORGANIZERS ESTIMATE 500 SENIORS SHOWED UP.


THANKS FOR JOINING US.... WE'LL BE BACK TONIGHT AT 11.
REMEMBER...THE NEWS IS ALWAYS ON AT 13WMAZ.COM !
THE EVENING NEWS IS UP NEXT.

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