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Autopsy on body this weekend
Boyfriend to be returned here on charges
Hinesville Detectives Susie Jackson, Al Cato, Chuck Woodall and Kyle Lairamore check for clues in a sandy area near pond where the body was found Thursday morning. - photo by Photo by Pat Watkins
Authorities had not released the identity of human remains found in west Liberty County Friday morning by Saturday evening.
There was also no new information on Maurice Newsome, a Liberty County resident who was arrested in Atlanta Thursday night on a charge connected to the search for a missing Hinesville woman.
The growing implication is that an autopsy being performed at a Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab over the weekend will confirm the body found off the end of Juanita Lane in the Gum Branch area is that of Savannah Smith, 22.
Hinesville Police Department head of detectives, Maj. Thomas Cribbs, Friday morning would give few details about the remains, but did imply he believed they were Smith’s.
“The only missing person case we are working is hers,” he said.
Juanita Lane comes off Pioneer Road. The body was found in a wooded, lowland right at the edge of a pond. There are homes along Juanita.
Cribbs said he and a Georgia State Patrol helicopter pilot flew over the area west of Hinesville after searches by land vehicles and on foot Wednesday and Thursday did not turn anything up.
Savannah Smith was last seen June 8. She was reported missing by coworkers the next day when she did not show up for work at the Colleseum.
During the initial investigation, Cribbs said he learned there had been fights between Newsome and Smith, who lived together. When police interviewed Newsome he admitted he beat her about the time she was reported missing.
So, last Monday, HPD got an arrest warrant for Newsome for aggravated assault. But officers could not find Newsome to serve the warrant.
“That’s when we realized she may be hurt worse than what he said about the beating,” the detective said.
And that’s when Newsome’s description and the description of the vehicle he was believed to be driving were put into state and national alert systems. He was found by officers in DeKalb County sleeping in his car.
Cribbs said detectives from here were sent to Atlanta late Thursday, but could not bring Newsome back immediately because he had been admitted to Grady Hospital. The detective would not say why Newsome was hospitalized.
Other information turned up during the investigation early last week led to the search west of Hinesville. Cribbs would not detail what that information was.
At last report, Cribbs said he hoped to have Newsome back here early this coming week. He said the investigation and search for Savannah Smith would continue unless the identification of the remains says they are hers.
If the identification is positive, he the charges against Newsome likely would change.
“(The aggravated assault charge) could be upgraded depending on what happens here,” Cribbs said Friday.

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