It was midday on another hot August day when a sanitation worker saw something that would shock Northwest Georgia. The dismembered parts of a woman had been stuffed in separate bags and dumped at the Bartow County Landfill. The worker spotted the victim’s torso and, within minutes, arriving police officers knew it was a case like none others in their careers.
Soon, state and federal investigators would join the quest as they spent most of the rest of the month trying to identify the young woman whose remains first were left at a remote dump site near Cartersville and then transported to the landfill.
By month’s end, the surging interest in the case on social media would help link the woman’s distinct chest tattoo to that of a person missing in West Virginia. It didn’t take much longer to discover the victim was Courtney Nicole Dubois, 20, most recently living near Fairmont, W. Va.
Authorities likewise made their first public moves in an alleged drug trafficking ring, a pipeline of meth from Bartow County to West Virginia. Two Cartersville men were arrested by federal authorities and the case exploded. Eventually, court records would indicate Courtney died of a drug overdose. Her remains wound up in Bartow County.
In the year since that landfill discovery, federal court near Fairmont, W. Va., has been swirling with suspects and indictments and hearings. Several social media groups have closely tracked every single development in the case while members repeatedly post tributes and remembrances to a young woman many of them never met.
The timeline of the case:
- Feb. 2, 1998: Courtney Nicole Dubois is born in Jacksonville, N.C., the daughter of Adam and Lisa Dubois. The family would move to several communities over the years, including Limestone, Maine, where she would attend high school. She eventually wound up in the Fairmont, W.Va., area.
- Aug. 11, 2018: The Bartow County Sheriff’s Office believes Dubois’ remains are left at the Cedar Creek Collection Center at 15 Cedar Creek Road — between Adairsville and Cartersville — during the hours of 3 and 6 p.m.
- Aug. 13: A dumpster from that site was taken to Bartow County Landfill where the remains were found around 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 13. Dubois’ body had been dismembered and placed in separate bags. A sanitation worker spotted the torso of a woman, which led to the discovery of the other remains.
- Aug. 13-31: The sheriff’s office, assisted by the GBI and FBI, continued investigating leads into the identity of the woman.
- Aug. 31: Social media users establish a link between the images of the victim’s tattoos to the Facebook page, Missing in West Virginia. The biggest link: Matching Dubois’ distinctive chest tattoo to her images in the above pictures.
- Sept. 5: GBI medical examiners, using dental records from the family, confirm the victim’s identity as Courtney Nicole Dubois, 20, of Fairmont, W.Va.
- Early September: WVNews reports that William G. “Bill” Chappell, 31, one of two Cartersville men charged in what authorities say was a Georgia-to-West Virginia meth pipeline — gave up his right to a probable cause hearing in federal court. The online news report says Chappell wants a detention hearing at a later date. Members of his family traveled from Georgia for Tuesday’s hearing in federal court. The story says “Chappell clasped his hands to the back of his head at multiple times during the hearing as the realization set in that he will have to remain behind bars likely at least through the rest of this week and this weekend. Authorities say the second Cartersville suspect, Terrick Robinson, would “bring in the drugs, while Chappell, with guns, served as protection for Robinson, the drugs and the proceeds.”
- Oct. 20: A Mass of Christian Burial for Dubois is held at Parish of the Precious Blood, St. Louis Catholic Church in Limestone, Maine. The committal service was at St. Louis Cemetery.
- Feb. 14, 2019: William G. “Will” Chappell pleads guilty to federal drug and gun charges involving a narcotics pipeline from Bartow County to West Virginia in return for not facing prosecution for distribution of a controlled substance resulting in injury or death last Aug. 9 or 10. Chappell also agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and already has been debriefed. Chappell will face 20 or more years in prison for his pleas to a crystal meth possession/distribution conspiracy, and possession of a 9mm handgun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
- March 26, 2019: Federal grand jurors indict Terrick Robinson, 34, of Cartersville in the alleged fatal overdose in West Virginia of Dubois, according to the the defendant’s lawyer.
- Since then: Additional suspects have been mentioned in the drug pipeline investigation. The case has continued to unwind with no trial dates set as yet. The latest