COVINGTON - Newton County authorities recovered the dismembered remains of a woman Tuesday morning in a wooded area off Ga. Highway 212.
The remains, which were described as being cleanly severed, are believed to be those of a recently deceased white or Hispanic woman with a medium build, according to Lt. Bill Watterson, spokesman for the Newton County Sheriff's Office.
Watterson said authorities received a call about 3:30 a.m. from an area resident, who said she arrived home to find her dogs fighting over what appeared to be a human foot.
The witness was initially unsure if the foot was real, but upon arriving at the scene, authorities were able to confirm that it was indeed a human foot and established a perimeter in an effort to locate the remainder of the body.
Watterson said the remains recovered thus far have all been found within about a 50-yard radius of one another and indicated that authorities had cordoned off a 5-acre tract of land in search of further remains. The NCSO spokesman also said cadaver dogs have been brought in to assist in the search.
"The next step will be to find out who she was and who did this to her," he said.
Investigators believe that the victim possibly knew her killer due to the brutality of the crime and that the suspect may have also been familiar with the area, which is secluded and cannot be seen from the highway.
"It takes a lot of work to dismember a body, and their motive to do this to someone would have to be anger or hate," Watterson said.
A cause of death had yet to be determined, and Watterson said all of the remains recovered Tuesday bore no immediately apparent injuries, apart from the obvious dismemberment.
No missing persons report in Newton County matches that of the victim, but Watterson said that authorities are in the process of checking with other jurisdictions.
As of press time Tuesday, Watterson said that a dive team had been brought in to search a nearby lake for possible remains. About 50 percent of the body had been recovered thus far.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the NCSO at 678-625-1403. Tips can be given to the NCSO anonymously at 678-625-5007 or through the Web at www.newtonsheriffga.org and clicking on "anonymous tip line." Those who want a response from NCSO personnel should leave contact information.
Joel Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: Information sought
Anyone with information is asked to call the Newton County Sheriff's Office at 678-625-1403. Tips can be given to the NCSO anonymously at 678-625-5007 or through the Web by visiting www.newtonsheriffga.org and clicking on "anonymous tip line." Those who want a response from NCSO personnel should leave contact information.