After weeks of investigation, the Newton County Sheriff's Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have made an arrest in the murder of a Decatur woman whose dismembered body parts were found off Ga. Highway 212 on Oct. 29.
GBI Public Affairs Officer John Bankhead said Franklin Benson, 47, was arrested Sunday and has been charged in connection with the murder of his girlfriend, 49 year-old Leslyan Williams of Decatur. Benson is currently being held in the Newton County Detention Center.
Bankhead said the case came together when investigators made a connection between the couple and the site where the body parts were located. When agents followed up on the lead, they discovered Williams had been reported missing in Decatur.
"Her family is from Michigan," Bankhead said. "The last time they heard from her was on Oct. 28, and they reported her missing on Nov. 6."
Investigators were then able to positively match Williams' fingerprints with those of the hands found in Newton County. A search warrant was issued for Williams and Benson's residences after which Benson was arrested. Bankhead declined to comment on what was found in the search to connect Benson with the murder or if the suspect is cooperating with investigators.
"We don't talk about those parts of the investigation," Bankhead said.
The case is still open, Bankhead said, and on Monday, investigators searched Benson's business, Benson Auto Service and Repair at 4806 Covington Highway in Decatur.
"The investigators for both the GBI and the Newton County Sheriff's Office have done a great job with this investigation," Bankhead said. "They all worked very closely on this case."
The investigation began after Williams' hands, arms, feet and legs were discovered between the back of an unoccupied house and a small lake in a secluded neighborhood off Ga. Highway 212. NCSO Lt. Bill Watterson previously said investigators believed the murderer was familiar with the area and his victim.
Investigators are still searching for Williams' head and torso as well as the murder weapon. Anyone with information on either Williams or Benson is asked to call the GBI Tip Line at (800) 597-TIPS (8477) or the Newton County Sheriff's Office at (678) 625-1403. Tips may also be given anonymously at (678) 625-5007 or on their Web site www.newtonsheriffga.org.