The Newton County Sheriff's Office recently released the name of the victim in Saturday's homicide, the sixth in Newton County for 2008.
Fernando Gonzales, 29, was allegedly killed by his room mate Abel Torres, 28, at their house on 170 Trelawney Circle early Saturday morning, according to the NCSO and Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Torres was arrested just hours later by local authorities in Birmingham, Ala., on a bus headed to California and is awaiting extradition to Newton County.
Two other men staying at the house fled the scene and flagged down a Georgia State Patrol trooper around 4:50 a.m. and communicated that their friend had just been murdered, according to GBI spokesperson John Bankhead.
When NCSO deputies went to the house, they found the front door open and Gonzales' body inside.
Torres was gone but all the occupants' cars were still at the house. Jerry Carter, an investigator with the District Attorney's office, came up with the idea of checking the taxi manifests, according to NCSO spokesperson Investigator Sharron Stewart.
Investigators found that a man matching Torres' description had taken a taxi to an Atlanta bus station and purchased a ticket for California.
Torres and Gonzales moved into the house several months ago and two other men were visiting them, Bankhead said. All four men were from California.
Newton County Sheriff Joe Nichols pointed out investigators made arrests in 19 of the last 20 homicides in the county. The success in clearing homicide cases was due to a combination of factors, he said.
"We've got some very good investigators here," said Nichols. "We've been given excellent cooperation by the GBI in these last two cases and by New Jersey police and Alabama."
He expressed appreciation for county agencies as well, such as the District Attorney's office, Covington Police Department and Georgia State Patrol Troopers.
"We also have benefited by excellent information and interaction with the different communities," Nichols said. "I appreciate the communities in being interested in and involved in clearing these cases."
At a standing-room only Trelawney neighborhood crime watch meeting attended by more than 70 residents on Sunday afternoon, NCSO Lt. Bill Watterson reiterated the role that communities play in policing their own neighborhoods.
"We had a good neighborhood watch, and it wasn't even set up," said Watterson, recalling his childhood days. "They were just nosy! You remember those days? That's what we need to bring back," he said.
NCSO Sgt. Sonny Goodson reassured the Trelawney subdivision residents that their neighborhood was still one of the safest out of the subdivisions along Brown Bridge Road.
Many residents also voiced concerns about group homes and unattended children and teenagers roaming about, committing petty crimes and making the neighborhood feel unsafe.