A fatal wreck Saturday afternoon on Highway 301 in Long County appears to have ties to an incident that occurred at a Richmond Hill hotel earlier that day.
Richmond Hill Police Department Maj. Mike Albritton said a Royal Inn housekeeper found a suicide note and blood spatters in the room that previously had been occupied by Gerard Pepin, 62, and Gina Marie Pepin, 59, of Panama City Beach, Florida. It later was determined that the spatters were caused by self-inflicted injuries to the Pepins’ necks.
The housekeeper alerted authorities, and detectives Doug Sahlberg and Keith Welch arrived and reviewed surveillance footage from the hotel’s parking lot. According to Albritton, the Pepins were seen leaving the Royal Inn around 10:30 a.m. in a 2007 Ford Mustang. Albritton said Gerard Pepin could be seen helping Gina Marie Pepin into the car.
Sahlberg and Welch issued a “be on the lookout” alert for the Mustang.
It’s not known where the couple was headed, but Georgia State Patrol Trooper Eric Wilkes assumed they took Highway 17 into Hinesville, turned onto Highway 84 and drove through Ludowici before turning right on Highway 301. The Mustang wreckage was found 11 miles down the road, near George Swindell Road. The accident occurred around noon, which authorities say would have been enough time for the Pepins to make it that far.
The Richmond Hill detectives later were notified that a vehicle matching the description of their “BOLO” alert had been involved in an accident in Long County, about 45 miles west of Richmond Hill.
A witness reportedly told Wilkes that the vehicle veered off the road and drove several feet into the woods, where it flipped at least two times, ejecting the Pepins, who were not wearing seat belts.
Wilkes said Gina Pepin was pronounced dead at the scene, and Gerard Pepin was flown to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, where he was in stable condition as of Tuesday.
Gerard Pepin is facing charges, but Wilkes could not yet disclose those charges. The GSP trooper is working with the District Attorney’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to determine the charges.
Wilkes said Gerard Pepin already was facing sexual-assault charges in Volusia County, Florida. According to a news release from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, Gerard Pepin was arrested June 12 and charged with two counts of sexual battery and sexual misconduct.
A media report generated by television station WLBZ in Bangor, Maine, where Gerard Pepin previously lived, indicated his ex-wife, Deborah Jones, is writing a book about the former psychotherapist, who is accused of assaulting a 24-year-old patient.