TIFTON -- The Georgia Bureau of Investigation revealed Tuesday that there were signs of a struggle in the murder of 75-year-old Margaret Manaugh, but refused to divulge a cause of death in the case.
"It's a murder," said Mike Lewis, special agent in charge with the Region 15 office of the GBI in Sylvester. Manaugh's death had been ruled a homicide Monday after a GBI autopsy, but Lewis' statement reveals that authorities believe foul play was involved in the death.
"You could say, yeah, there were signs of a struggle," he said.
Manaugh's body was found between 5:39 p.m. and 5:48 p.m. Saturday in her home on Highway 82 East by her sister, Myra Wiggins, after Manaugh could not be reached by phone.
Initially categorized as a death investigation, the death was later classified a homicide. Tift County Sheriff's Office and GBI investigators placed police tape around Manaugh's home Monday as they scoured the home for clues. The tape and investigative vehicles had been removed Tuesday afternoon.
Lewis said that the GBI does not have a suspect in the slaying but is interviewing Manaugh's family, friends and acquaintances to try to produce one. When asked if he believed the killer was an acquaintance of Manaugh, he said, "No comment."
Both the TCSO Monday and the GBI Tuesday refused to reveal Manaugh's cause of death. Lewis said that the investigation works best when only the suspect and law enforcement officials know the details of the case.
"We'd like to sit on it for a few days," he said.
When asked further questions, Lewis refused to hear them saying that he had given the Tifton Gazette enough for a story. TCSO officials also would not answer questions about the case Tuesday, referring them instead to Lewis and the GBI.
Residents in the area of Highway 82 East were left frightened by the murder, however, and want to know more.
One woman who lives less than half of a mile from Manaugh's residence said that she has a lot of unanswered questions about the murder and those unanswered questions make her afraid.
"The cause of death is going to let you know how violent of a person we're dealing with," she said. "How did she die? They need to let us know if they think it's an isolated incident or if it's a serial killer.
"The fear of not knowing is the worst of all," she said.
Another woman who lives about a mile from the Manaugh home on Highway 82 said that the close proximity of the highway makes her nervous.
"It just makes me nervous and scared if this person's from here or on the road," she said. "On the highway, it would be easy for someone to just walk right up and break in.
"It would be nice of the sheriff's office just to tell us something. It would be nice if I just knew that it wasn't somebody from around here. It's unacceptable to let people live in fear."
Another woman who lives within a half of a mile of the residence said she would like to know more because it creates a feeling of fear about who comes into her home.
"Just not knowing, it could be anybody," she said. "It could be somebody you let in your house, too. You don't know what might set this person off."
The woman said that many murders in the community have been unsolved and she did not want to see this case go unsolved, too. She said she would like to know more about the process and methods used to find the murderer.
"How close are they on finding somebody?" she said. "Don't just throw a name or body out there to make you feel warm and fuzzy. It would be comforting to know what kind of process they go through to identify a suspect."
She said the area is a very tight-knit community and she had known Manaugh for many years.
"You just feel sorry for the family that's going through this," she said.
All the neighbors who were interviewed for this article said they did not want their names revealed because they did not want to place themselves in possible danger.
Anyone with information related to the case should call the TCSO Criminal Investigation Division at 388-6033 or the GBI at (229) 777-2080.
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