published Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Suspected murder weapon found in Chattooga case

Chattooga County Sheriff's Office investigators found a Colt .45 in a pond near Georgia State Route 100 and Lyerly Dam Road. The gun belonged to William Robert Packer, and investigators believe his girlfriend used it to kill him.
Chattooga County Sheriff's Office investigators found a Colt .45 in a pond near Georgia State Route 100 and Lyerly Dam Road. The gun belonged to William Robert Packer, and investigators believe his girlfriend used it to kill him.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Investigators think they've found the gun that killed William Robert Packer.

After her arrest on a charge of felony murder last week, Deborah Elaine Wilkins took Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Joe Montgomery to a pond near her home in southern Summerville.

Wilkins confessed to killing Packer, Chattooga County Sheriff Mark Schrader said. Then she pointed to the pond.

That's where she said she dumped the murder weapon, Packer's own Colt .45 handgun. The pond is about 14 miles from Packer's home, where deputies found him shot to death three weeks ago.

On June 21, a diving team from the Georgia State Patrol searched the pond for seven hours without luck. On Thursday morning, the sheriff's office pulled two pumps into the pond and began draining it.

Thirty hours later, after draining about 6.7 million gallons of water, investigators found the gun. Schrader said the three bullets pumped into Packer's back appeared to have come from a Colt .45.

The sheriff's office is familiar with that specific gun. In May 2007, according to an incident report, Packer pointed the gun at the feet of his former wife and shot the floor three times.

"Call the police," he told her as he unloaded the bullets.

Three years later, Packer whipped out the same gun, this time to threaten Wilkins. One night in April 2010, according to an incident report, Packer awakened Wilkins by pressing the Colt .45 to her head.

She told the sheriff's office that Packer accused her of drinking his sodas, eating his food and having sex with other men.

"I was lying in bed trying to sleep," she told the deputies in a written statement. "He was coming into the room, saying he was going to (expletive removed) me up. ... I was trying to sleep. 'Bob, please stop.'"

Four years after that, on June 14, Wilkins called Chattooga Chief Deputy Kevin Woods.

"I've got a dead body here," she said, according to Schrader, "and I'm tired of looking at it."

When deputies found Packer's body in the dining room of his home at 2646 John Jones Road, Wilkins blamed his death on "the blacks." She was drunk, according to an incident report, and gave deputies many different versions of events.

Finally, she said that Packer had been dead since 3 a.m. -- about 14 hours before Wilkins called the sheriff's office. She said she wished she had dumped his body in the water.

Montgomery and a Chattooga County investigator arrested her five days later.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or at tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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