Two Austell detectives were on the ABAC campus Tuesday night and Wednesday morning searching the apartment of a 19-year-old student charged with the Saturday murder of a 16-year-old girl in Austell.

According to Austell Deputy Police Chief Natalie Poulk, Matthew Wilkins has been charged with the murder of Marlisa Wells. When asked if the investigation had revealed any motive for the murder, Poulk said “No, he hasn’t given any statement yet and has asked for an attorney.” She also said that investigators are awaiting toxicology reports to determine if either Wilkins or Wells was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the murder.

“It didn’t appear so, but that was just me looking at him and I really don’t know,” Poulk said. “We don’t have the toxicology back on either yet.”

Investigators told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Wells’ assailant used a “sharp object” to fatally beat her in the area of her head and neck.

According to an article that ran Jan. 20 in the Journal-Constitution, Wells lived with her grandparents, Marvin and Charlotte Wells, who raised her in their Austell home. The article reported that the grandfather and the girl had discussed which colleges she might attend hours before the couple found the girl’s body when they returned Saturday morning from attending a friend’s funeral.

The article said that Marlisa Wells and Matthew Wilkins had both attended Covenant Christian Ministries Academy in Marietta, with Wilkins graduating last year and Wells transferring to South Cobb High School. Austell police told the AJC reporter that the two had a relationship. Wilkins, who is being held in the Cobb County jail, was reported to have lived with his parents in Douglas County, and investigators searched that home early Sunday morning and took out “19 bags of evidence” according to Austell Police Chief Bob Starrett.

What evidence detectives gathered at Wilkins’ ABAC apartment is unknown.

Mike Chason, public relations director for the college, said Wilkins was a second-semester ABAC freshman from Douglasville and was a business major. He confirmed that investigators had been on campus.

“It is a tragic situation really,” Chason said.

Over 1,300 of the college’s 3,665 students are housed on campus in either ABAC Place or ABAC Lakeside apartments.

“We have students from a wide variety of places and from all over the world,” Chason said. “ABAC is just like a small community.”

Chason said he had spoken with ABAC Police Chief Bryan Golden, and Golden said that he hadn’t received any calls from concerned parents.

“We have an excellent ABAC police department that is on duty 365 days a year,” Chason said.

To contact senior reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321.

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