Cartersville police arrested Brettney Anwarr Moore, 26, of Cartersville Wednesday night at his home in connection with the death of Randall Statler on Dec. 16, 2012, at the Sun-Glo Car Wash, 390 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Moore is charged with murder and two counts of armed robbery and currently is awaiting his first court appearance.
The 28-year-old victim had been mudding earlier that day and was washing his truck between 7 and 8 p.m. when two suspects attempted to rob him. Statler was shot once in the head.
“Since Dec. 16, we have put considerable resources into solving this crime. This is, in my opinion, one of those true whodunnit-type of crimes. It required a lot of hours of work and investigative effort,” Police Chief Thomas Culpepper said during a press conference Thursday.
With Moore behind bars, authorities now are seeking a second man, who has not been identified.
Lead investigator David Bojczuk said based on statements, officials feel comfortable the incident stemmed from an attempted robbery.
“Well, we know for sure that their statements — the suspects’ — that robbery was the key to that,” he said. “During the day, there was motive [for the suspects] to rob someone and [Statler] was at the wrong place at the wrong time. They were hurting for money.”
Police could not say Thursday what Moore and his accomplice took from the scene aside from the victim’s cellphone. Money was found at the scene.
“We’re not sure if that’s all they took, but we know that a phone was taken,” Bojczuk said. “There were a few calls made after; however, we tried to track them, which didn’t pan out. Pretty much it was hang-up calls, so we really couldn’t track that anywhere. We attempted — it’s called pinging, it pings from the tower — it didn’t give us much information.”
When asked what items were recovered from the scene, the investigator declined to detail the inventory, saying, “There were lots of things left in the truck.”
Bojczuk declined to say what caliber weapon was used, whether the murder weapon had been recovered and which suspect was the triggerman.
With no apparent connection between Statler, who had no criminal background, and the two suspects, it is unclear why the two men would kill Statler and not take cash and valuables.
“We think they could have been spooked and they could have ran. Due to the fact of how the scene was, they may have gotten scared before they could finish what they were going to do,” Bojczuk said.
“There is a thing in this world called evil. To me, that’s what that is. ‘OK, steal my money, but you don’t have to shoot me,’” Culpepper said. “You have some people in this world that don’t think like that, that there’s no regard for human life. That’s why I say, we believe it was important to get this person off the street because of that very thought process that we believe is going on in that’s person head.”
Moore, who was sentenced in 2009 to 15 years in prison with five to serve — he was out in half that — for drugs, has been a person of interest for some time. The second suspect, a transient man from the area, came to light just recently, according to CPD Capt. Mark Camp.
Although the shooting took place between 7 and 8 p.m., the first 911 call did not come in until almost 3 1/2 hours later, which created difficulties in the almost-five-month investigation.
“There was a lot of different time frames in reference to when this actually occurred due to the fact that the call was actually taken about three hours after the actual incident occurred,” Bojczuk said. “After that, we received some information just in the past week that actually gave us a closer time frame by one of the witnesses, so once we were able to get the narrowed time frame, we went back and reviewed some of the surveillance tapes and put more people in the area and were able to ID some people ... .”
He said authorities had ferreted out information by going door to door in the area asking questions. Trying to locate and talk to witnesses was part of the delay in making an arrest, he added.
“Like I said, some of the stuff was not in sequence that we had it ...,” Bojczuk said. “Due to the time frame of how long he sat there, we really didn’t know exactly when it occurred. Once we were able to finally narrow it down, certain things we actually discovered and we located some people on some cameras and we interviewed them. The information started flowing in.”
“The problem we have with cases like this is, the longer the delay in people telling us what they know, the longer the delay in us being able to do something,” Culpepper said. “Five months is virtually nothing on a whodunnit. If this were ‘CSI,’ of course, we’d have it done it 45 minutes.”
Vacating a building just doors down from the car wash less than two weeks before the shooting, Culpepper said CPD reached out to residents following the incident and stepped up security measures.
“We got a lot of community feedback immediately after that — there was a heightened sense of concern. We did what we could,” he said. “What we’ve done, we’ve heightened our patrols around there. We’ve done some other things. We have a drug task force that does a lot of clandestine work for us. They’re aware of that area. They’re staying on top of things. We’re continuing to stay active in the area; we haven’t forgotten about that area. We do understand that those who live in that area would be concerned about this.”
The area is known for drugs — a tire shop less than a block away was targeted by the drug task force earlier this year for selling prescription medication — and burglaries, with Culpepper saying activity “comes and goes.”
“I’m not an alarmist when I see crime trends, but I do have to be aware of them, as the whole department is. I don’t see a trend of that kind of crime occurring. I don’t see a trend even in that area of anything that would alarm us,” he said.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call CPD at 770-382-2526.