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Georgia inmate charged with murdering soldier 40 years later

A Georgia grand jury has indicted an inmate for murder in connection with the murder of an army soldier who was found fatally shot on the side of a road nearly two months after he was last seen on a train to leave his barracks in 1982, authorities said.

Inmate, Marcellus McCluster, 64, formerly of Richland, Georgia, was charged last month with one count of malicious murder and four counts of felony murder in the death of soldier, Rene Dawn Blackmore, who was 20 when she disappeared, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Thursday.

Agents from the bureau served Mr. McCluster with a warrant for his arrest at a jail near Augusta, Georgia, where he is serving a life sentence for an unrelated murder conviction in 1983.

It was not immediately clear on Friday whether Mr McCluster had a lawyer in connection with the new charges.

At a news conference Thursday, Kimberly Schwartz, assistant circuit attorney for Chattahoochee, said there was no statute of limitations for the murder.

“It’s the only crime that takes away from the victim that fundamental right that we all have, which is the right to live the rest of our lives that we have been granted,” she said, adding that Private Blackmore had been killed “by a cheap shotgun blast.

“There is no expiration date for this kind of evil,” she said.

Vic Reynolds, the director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, did not identify the evidence that led to Mr McCluster, telling the press conference that “the case is still an active and open investigation, and it does not is by no means over”.

Private Blackmore, a Phoenix native, was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia when he disappeared after leaving the base for Columbus, Georgia on the evening of April 29, 1982, authorities said.

His wallet and sweater were found nearly a month later on the side of a road near Cusseta, Georgia, about 17 miles from Fort Benning.

On June 28, 1982, Private Blackmore’s remains were found on a logging road in Chattahoochee County, Mr Reynolds said.

His remains were found four days after the military offered a reward for information about his disappearance, The New York Times reported at the time. Authorities did not say who discovered his remains.

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation identified Mr McCluster as a possible suspect within a year of his assassination, “but the initial investigation was ultimately stalled”, Mr McCluster said. Reynolds. He did not specify a reason.

Two years ago, Mr. Reynolds launched a cold case unit made up of retired bureau investigators.

He said Private Blackmore’s case was an initial focus of the unit, which was working with the military, the Chattahoochee County Sheriff’s Office and the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney.

In a statement provided by the office, Donna Reitman, Private Blackmore’s mother, thanked the Unsolved Cases Unit for finding “the man who murdered my daughter.”

She said investigators spent 18 months “working to solve his case because they, too, cared about him and believed Rene deserved justice,” she said.

“Nothing can give me René back,” she added. “But I take comfort in knowing that these men cared enough to seek that justice.”

Mr. McCluster is due for arraignment on April 25.


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