Crime Watch

Remembering Upatoi triple murder victims one year later

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Officials and the loved ones of three slain family members are remembering the fateful day three innocent victims lost their lives.

Shameika Averett called family and friends to Green Acres Cemetery Wednesday. The Columbus cemetery is the resting place for her mother Gloria Short, Short's son Caleb, and Short's granddaughter (Averett's daughter) Gianna Lindsey. Rather than rest, many emotional people paid their respects and laid flowers at the graves of each murder victim.

Officials found the three family members brutally murdered in a Upatoi home the morning of January 4, 2016. Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan says the case is one that keeps people up at night.

"That's going to stand out in my mind for a long time," Bryan says. "[Chief Deputy Coroner Freeman Worley] said 'I got a triple death. I don't know the circumstance, out in a real nice neighborhood in Upatoi, Georgia.' I said let me go with you if you have three bodies. It's going to take some time."

Bryan calls the horrific triple murder "uncalled for and unnecessary."

Averett still holds on to the hurt and pain. Tears flowed from her face as she recollected some of the most precious memories she shared with her mother, brother, and sister.

"God cries with us," Averett says. "He is hurt with us. And He is so compassionate and He's a comforter."

Columbus Police arrested 20-year-old Raheem Gibson, 18-year-old Jervarceay Tapley, and 16-year-old Rufus Burks in connection with the triple murder. A grand jury indicted them on six counts of murder, first degree burglary and kidnapping. The three co-defendants now face a docket day Wednesday, January 11 to learn when their trial will begin.

"A lot of people feel that this shouldn't have happened," Averett says. "That shouldn't have happened. But no one is exempt."

One year ago, Shameika Averett looked forward to seeing her family. Now, she doesn't want the feeling they stirred in her to go away.

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