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Unsolved murders
The trail has grown cold on five mysterious crimes
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Authorities are asking for the public's help in all these cases. For investigators it doesn't matter how long it takes, the cases may get cold, but they won't get closed until the victims get justice. To leave tips on any of these cases contact the sheriff's office at (678) 625-1400 or online at All tips can be given anonymously.

Wendell Barber's lifeless body was found dumped like so much garbage last year in woods off Piper Road.

Barber lived a transient lifestyle and had no ties to Covington. Although Newton County Sheriff's Office investigators canvassed Piedmont Park and Club 91 and Bulldogs Nightclub in Midtown - areas Barber was said to frequent - leads dried up quickly.

"We pretty much hit a brick wall almost immediately," said Lt. Tyrone Oliver of the sheriff's office.

Barber, who was known by friends as "Pumpkin" or "P," was last seen in Midtown on Sept. 21. His body was found eight days later, badly decomposed; cause of death unknown.

Barber is not alone. Most murder cases are solved quickly in Covington and Newton County, but there are five cases in which justice so far has come slowly. Here's a look at Newton County's open murder investigations.

An unlocked door

The double murder of 40-year-old Jeffrey Nevels and 30-year-old Rachel Buser happened in January 2008, and although investigators aren't calling the case cold just yet, there have been no arrests.

The couple was found murdered in their home on Freeman Drive in The Falls subdivision by Buser's employer, who had come to check on her when she failed to report to work.

Investigators found the door unlocked and Nevels' body on the living room floor. Buser's body was in the bedroom; both had died of gunshot wounds. The assumption was that the victims knew their killer, since there was no sign of forced entry. An aggressive dog that was also inside the residence when investigators arrived makes it less likely that an intruder was the one responsible for the deaths of the couple.

"We are still actively investigating this case," said Oliver. "It is still active and we are still following leads."

A fleeing suspect

There is a warrant out for the arrest of Porfiro Guanchez, who investigators believe murdered his wife, Carmen, in August 2008, but since Guanchez fled to Mexico, the case remains open, adding Carmen - a mother of two - to the list of those awaiting justice.

She was strangled in her home in Covington. Their 3-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter were taken to a relative's house by their father, though it's unclear whether that was before or after their mother was killed.

There had been previous domestic issues at the home and Guanchez had been living elsewhere at the time of her death.

According to Oliver, there is a warrant for murder for Guanchez, but the governor has to sign an order for investigators to travel to Mexico to search for him and Mexican authorities have to allow for extradition from there to Georgia. As of now, the case remains open.

A cold case

Telly Antonio Byrd was 23 when he was shot and killed in 1999 in a home off Flat Shoals Road. And although there were several people there at the time, no one admitted to seeing anything.

Deputies responded to the home when a call came in about a burglary in progress. When they arrived, they found Byrd's body. The case went cold quickly and remains that way.

"A case becomes cold when we have exhausted all of our leads and gone through all of the evidence available to us," Oliver said. "That doesn't mean we stop looking or working leads when we get them. It doesn't mean that person is forgotten... A lot of crimes are committed by local people. And while they can get away, they usually don't go far. They typically stay in the Metro area, which makes it easier to find them."

Cultural confusion

The latest case the investigators are struggling with is that of Manuel Samano Castillo, 41, who was found stabbed to death on May 31.

Castillo called 911 for help but was dead when deputies arrived.

"The cultural difference makes it harder," said Oliver. "We have Spanish speakers on the force, but it becomes difficult for the primary investigator when you use a translator."