Man charged in woman's death

CONYERS - The suspect in the beating death of a Lithonia woman has now been charged with murder.

Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington said Travis Santell Rabon, 21, was formally charged Monday in addition to the previous charges of two counts of aggravated battery, one county of aggravated assault, one count of kidnapping and two counts of rape.

Lt. Matt Wolfe said Tuesday that four young women drove to Rabon's apartment at 18208 St. James Drive some time the morning of Dec. 29 so that the victim, Kiera Avant, could pick up $100 from the suspect.

Wolfe said three of the women stayed in the car in the parking lot while Avant and Rabon, who reportedly had known each other since they attended Lithonia High School, went into his apartment.

"The other girls saw a pistol in his waistband, which made them uncomfortable," Wolfe said.

After about 30 minutes, two of the women went to Rabon's apartment to check on Avant. She and Rabon appeared to be getting along with nothing out of the ordinary, Wolfe said.

Some time later, however, the dynamics changed.

"He said he asked for sex, she refused and he snapped," Wolfe said.

Rabon allegedly beat and raped the woman.

When Avant didn't return to the vehicle after another 30 minutes or so, a third female went to Rabon's apartment.

"(She went) to the apartment and the suspect pulled her inside," Wolfe said.

Rabon allegedly beat and raped the second victim.

"The girls left out in the car had music playing and they could hear screams, very loud screams that could be heard over the music," Wolfe said.

The two females went upstairs to Rabon's apartment, but by the time they got to his front door, Wolfe said it was "totally quiet," and then they called the police.

Avant, 21, was transported to Rockdale Medical Center. She was taken off life support the evening of Dec. 31.

Wigington said the autopsy conducted Friday concluded her death was caused by strangulation.

The second victim was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital and released Dec. 30.

Avant's death marked the second murder in December and the fourth of 2008 in Rockdale County. On Dec. 15, Arthur James Threat, 39, was shot and killed outside his home in the Olde Salem Township subdivision. His neighbor, Bobby Frank Gordon, was arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault.

The body of Jason Durran Ramey, 30, of 1789 Spur Etchison Road, Loganville, was found lying in the emergency lane between Sigman and Turner Hill roads on Sept. 25 by a Georgia State Patrol trooper.

On May 20, 34-year-old James Johnson of Leesburg, S.C., was shot and killed while sitting in a vehicle outside a Waffle House restaurant on Salem Road. Decatur resident Charles Octavius McGruder, 18, was arrested in August in connection with the shooting and charged with murder, two counts of aggravated assault, criminal attempt and possession of a firearm or knife during a crime.

Aimee Jones can be reached at aimee.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.