Two more people have been charged in the expanding investigation into the May 12-13 murders of two Rome women. Nelly Miles, public affairs director for the GBI, confirms the arrest of two women Friday in charges stemming from the case. Floyd County Jail records show:
Julie Ann Satterfield, 38, on charges of giving false statements; possession of meth; and possession and use of drug-related paraphernalia.
Kayra Vinnette Morgan-Edwards, 28, on charges of giving false statements.
During Thursday’s media briefing, GBI agents confirmed additional arrests were pending in he murders of Vanita Richardson and Truvenia Campbell. The briefing was called to announce the arrest of three men on murder charges: Desmond Lavonta Brown, Devin Lashawn Watts and Christopher Leedarius Pullen.
All remained in the Floyd County Jail as of Friday afternoon.
Within minutes after the media conference, the posts began on social media. “They got the b——- that hurt you!”… “Justice has been served”… “We’re almost there. Y’all just keep praying” … “Justice!”
The families and friends of Vanita Richardson and Truvenia Campbell were sharing their reaction to the news that three men arrested within days after the murders had finally been charged with killing the pair on the night of May 12 or early May 13. Since then, makeshift memorials have popped up above the spot where their bodies were found on a Wednesday morning, just hours after their deaths. Calls for justice were heard at each of the “We Matter: A Peaceful Protest” in front of Rome City Auditorium over a series of Sunday afternoons.
Several relatives and friends attended the 4 p.m. Thursday briefing outside the Law Enforcement Center that was fully represented by the the GBI’s command staff as well as senior Rome Police. They also learned the investigation is far from over and that more arrests are pending.
GBI Director Vic Reynolds announced three arrests had been made in the murders of Vanita Richardson and Truvenia Campbell in mid May, including two men who have been in custody and “tied” to the case since about a week after the victims’ bodies were found off the Etowah River overpass near Grizzard Park.
Charged with murder and other counts are:
- Desmond Lavonta Brown, age 28, charged with Malice Murder (2cts), Felony Murder (2 cts), Aggravated Battery (2cts), Aggravated Assault (2cts), Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Crime, Possession of a Firearm by First Offender Probationer, Theft by Taking, Tampering with Evidence (3cts), False Statements and Writings, and Abandonment of a Dead Body (2cts). Arrested May 21.
- Devin Lashawn Watts, age 36, charged with Malice Murder (2cts), Felony Murder (2 cts), Aggravated Battery (2cts), Aggravated Assault (2cts), Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Crime, Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon, Theft by Taking, Tampering with Evidence (3cts), False Statements and Writings, and Abandonment of a Dead Body (2cts). Arrested May 19.
- Christopher Leedarius Pullen, age 23, charged with Felony Murder (2cts), Aggravated Battery (2cts), Aggravated Assault (2cts), Abandonment of Dead Body (2cts), Tampering with Evidence (3cts), Theft by Taking, False Statements and Writings. Arrested May 17.
- All three are being held in the Floyd County Jail and more arrests are pending.
- Additional arrests are pending.
Reynolds praised cooperation with Rome Police as well as law enforcement agencies throughout Northwest Georgia and other parts of the state. More than 130 warrants and court orders were used to “get to this point,” Reynolds said. GBI has spent some 2,993 hours on the case, not counting other agencies.
A Rome native, Reynolds likewise thanked the community for its assistance, including in helping locate Vanita’s vehicle that had been missing since the murders. The cause
of death has not been revealed but the GBI did say more arrests are pending.
He declined questions, saying parts of the case remain open. Once done, it will be presented to District Attorney Leigh Patterson’s office.
The victims were found murdered below the bridge over the Etowah River off the Bypass on May 13. A cause of death has never been revealed. The Rome Police Department, within 90 minutes of the discovery of the bodies, requested the GBI lead the investigation. The heads of both young women had been covered. Their remains were found by a state Department of Transportation crew doing maintenance on the overpass just south of Dixon Landing and Grizzard Park.
They died just days before Vanita’s graduation from Armuchee High School and weeks after Truvenia turned 30.
GBI MEDIA RELEASE:
GBI Agents announce that Vanita Richardson’s vehicle has been recovered. The vehicle, a 1997 Toyota Corolla, gold in color, had been missing since the victims’ death. The vehicle was located in the City of South Fulton. The vehicle was transported to Rome, Georgia to be processed for evidence.
The investigation into the death of Vanita Richardson and Truvenia Campbell represents efforts from numerous law enforcement agencies from Rome and the surrounding areas. Agencies that provided assistance include:
- Rome Police Department
- Rome Floyd Metro Task Force
- Floyd County Police Department
- Floyd County Sheriff’s Office
- Cartersville Bartow County Drug Task Force
- U.S. Marshall Service
- Georgia State Patrol
- Union City Police
- Atlanta Police Department
- Pickens County Sheriff’s Office
- Rockmart Police Department
- Polk County Police Department
- Georgia Bureau of Investigation: Region 1, 8, 10, GISAC, DOFS
May 22, 2020 GBI update:
On May 21, 2020, Desmond Lavonta Brown, age 28, was rearrested by the GBI for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and possession of marijuana of less than an ounce. This arrest comes after also being arrested on May 20, 2020 in Bartow County by the U.S. Marshals Service & the Bartow/Cartersville Drug Task Force for possession of over an ounce of marijuana. He currently remains in custody in Floyd County Jail.
The victim’s (Vanita Richardson) vehicle has not been located. Anyone with information pertaining to this case should contact the GBI tipline at 1-800-597-TIPS (8477).
May 20, 2020 GBI update:
The following individuals have been arrested in connection with the double homicide investigation in Rome, GA:
- Arrested 5/18/20: Desmond Lavonta Brown, age 28, charge – misdemeanor obstruction of a police officer.
- Arrested 5/19/20: Devin Lashawn Watts, age 36, charges – theft of receiving stolen property; possession of a firearm by convicted felon.
These arrests were the results of search warrants executed on apartments and vehicles based on leads that were developed and tips received from the GBI Tip Line. This investigation remains active and ongoing. Anyone with information pertaining to this this case is urged to contact the GBI at 1-800-597-TIPS (8477).
From July 15:
The memorials remain on the bridge off the Bypass on Rome’s east side. Two sets of flowers have now been joined by two stuffed animals, two small American flags and a graduation “hat” with the A from Armuchee High School and the name of senior Vanita Richardson.
Her Facebook page is filled with remembrances, calls for justice and a short video of the memorial site, commemorating the location with Vanita’s body was found with Travenia Campbell on Wednesday, May 13. They died just days before Vanita’s graduation and weeks after Travenia turned 30.
For two months now, the GBI has asked the community to help provide clues to the double murders. As of Tuesday afternoon, there were no additional updates from the GBI. Wrote the agency’s Nelly Miles in response to our questions about the status of the case, “The community can be helpful by coming forward with any information about the investigation that they have knowledge of.” Anyone with information is ask to call: 800-597-8477.
Still unknown: The cause of death and now many tips the GBI has received in the case.
The community has not forgotten the open murder investigation. During a series of Sunday afternoon “We Matter: A Peaceful Protest” demonstrations in front of Rome’s City Hall, those gathered also remembered the slain women.
“We will also be standing for justice to be served for Vanita Richardson and Truvenia Campbell, local women who were killed weeks ago and their cases are still open,” according to an update accompanying the “We Matter” page.
On June 26, the GBI issued a plea for community cooperation in the case. One key issue was finding Vanita’s stolen car. It is described as a 1997 gold Toyota Corolla with Georgia license plate RTJ6295.
Previously, two Rome men were jailed on charges related to the case — per the GBI — but have not been charged with their deaths. Both men, Desmond Lavonta Brown, age 28, and Devin Lashawn Watts, age 36, both remained in custody Tuesday night at the Floyd County Jail. Watts was arrested May 19; Brown on May 21.