COVINGTON - Newton County authorities say that Abel Torres, 28, of 170 Trelawney Circle is awaiting extradition from Birmingham, Ala., after he was arrested Saturday in connection with the murder of his roommate.
Torres was arrested less than nine hours after Newton County investigators found the 29-year-old victim dead inside the west Newton County home. Authorities say both the victim and the suspect, who lived in the Trelawney subdivision off Brown Bridge Road with two other men, had only lived in the area for a few months.
An autopsy is expected to be performed on the victim today. It is believed both the victim and the suspect are from California, and the identity of the victim is being withheld pending notification of the next-of-kin.
Torres was arrested on board a bus bound for California in Alabama on Saturday afternoon.
"We certainly appreciate the Alabama authorities, who were able to arrest him on the bus," Stewart said. "It's my understanding they allowed the bus to load and then did a traffic stop and the suspect was apprehended."
Stewart said deputies were alerted to the murder when the other two roommates flagged down a Georgia State Patrol trooper who was writing a ticket on Interstate 20 and told him what had happened. NCSO authorities were notified, and when they went to the scene, they found the front door open and the body inside.
"They left and called the GBI and obtained search warrants for the home," Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said Saturday.
After investigators arrived at the scene, it was noted that all cars known to be at the residence were accounted for, and Stewart said Investigator Jerry Carter of the Newton County District Attorney's Office suggested investigators get in touch with area cab companies to see if a fare had been picked up there.
"We found out he had gone to the bus station in Atlanta, and we were able to track him from there," Stewart said.
Sheriff Joe Nichols praised the efforts of his investigators and all those involved in bringing the case to a quick conclusion.
"I'm particularly proud of our investigators this year, and the cooperation we've had with other agencies such as the GBI, and from the community in clearing up these homicides in a timely fashion," Nichols said.
This latest murder is the sixth that the NCSO has investigated in 2008.
"I think it's important that people know that the majority of these homicides are lifestyle related. They're not just random acts of violence. These have all been known-perpetrator crimes, where the victim knew the perpetrator or there was a family connection," he said. "They're not home invasions."
He said that presently the only open homicide case is the double murder of a couple at 695 Freeman Drive in late January.
"Hopefully, we'll close that case in the near future," he said.
Barbara Knowles can be reached at email@example.com.