published Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Sonny Neal is No. 1 priority in North Georgia

State GBI agents say they are interviewing all the friends and family of suspected killer Sonny Neal this morning and following up with every lead after he eluded a manhunt last night.

“He’s priority No. 1 in North Georgia,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Dan Simms.

Neal, who was spotted walking down Highway 201 toward Varnell Wednesday afternoon, spurred a massive search that lasted most of the night. Tracking dogs, dozens of officers on foot, SWAT teams and a helicopter with infrared cameras participated, but Neal wasn’t found.

Neal is suspected of killing his wife, Jessica, and her grandfather, Donald Shedd, last week then fleeing in what police are calling one of the goriest killings in Whitfield County history.

Police say Sonny Neal is armed and dangerous and if he is spotted called Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office at 706-278-1233.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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