A convicted sex offender has been arrested more than 30 years after an 8-year-old boy was found dead in the woods of an Atlanta suburbBy JEFF MARTIN Associated PressJuly 23, 2021, 6:41 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMARIETTA, Ga. — A convicted sex offender has been arrested more than 30 years after an 8-year-old boy was found dead in the woods of an Atlanta suburb.James Michael Coates, 56, faces multiple charges, including murder and aggravated child molestation in the 1988 killing of Joshua Harmon, Roswell police announced Friday. He was taken into custody Wednesday after a traffic stop as he rode in an Uber.Coates, of Woodstock, was arrested after DNA evidence collected from the crime scene linked him to the killing, police said.Detectives, police officers, scientists and others who worked the case over the years “never gave up hope in bringing Josh’s killer to justice,” Roswell Police Chief James Conroy said at a news conference.“This was a tragedy that no family should endure,” Conroy said. “The death of Josh and the fact that his killer remained free for such a long time is unimaginable.”“When you have something as tragic as the kidnapping and murder of an 8-year-old, that locks into your heart and that’s something you don’t want to give up,” Conroy added.One of the longtime investigators, former Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Keith Howard, said that “bringing this case together is a miraculous feat.”“Everyone I’ve met throughout my involvement in this, which was over 20 years, was always passionate about making sure they solved this case,” said Howard, who is now chief deputy with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.Joshua was reported missing by his parents on May 15, 1988, after he didn’t return home for dinner. After several hours of searching, his body was found in a wooded area near the apartment where he lived. Coates lived in the same apartment complex at the time, investigators said.Police said the case went cold, but they revisited leads over the years, and law enforcement technology improved.With the permission of his family, police say they exhumed the boy’s body in February 2021 in hopes of finding more evidence. Additional DNA testing was done on evidence from the crime scene, and police say the testing linked Coates to the crime.Coates has twice been convicted of child molestation for crimes that happened in 1990 and 1993, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. After the 1993 conviction, he spent two decades in prison and was released in August 2013, according to Georgia Department of Corrections records.Coates remained jailed Friday on the murder charge and other charges that include sodomy, child molestation and enticing a child for indecent purposes. It wasn’t known whether he has an attorney who could be reached for comment on his behalf.Joshua’s aunt, Marlene Carlisle, became emotional as she turned to investigators at Friday’s news conference and thanked them. They “always took anything and everything we had to say to heart and ran with it,” she said.“Josh was an amazing young boy who had an uncanny relationship with nature and with God, so I know where he is and I know he’s at peace,” Carlisle said.
Authorities say they hope to reopen a stretch of Georgia interstate earlier than anticipated after crews made quick work of demolishing a damaged overpassBy JEFF MARTIN Associated PressJuly 16, 2021, 9:06 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMARIETTA, Ga. — Authorities say they hope to reopen a stretch of Georgia interstate earlier than anticipated after crews made quick work of demolishing a damaged overpass Friday.The goal now is for some westbound traffic on Interstate 16 to resume as early as Friday night, state transportation officials said at briefing. Then, some traffic will be allowed in the opposite direction by Saturday.Repairs to the overpass went much more quickly than anticipated, said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who flew to the site by helicopter to brief reporters on the progress.“Really, this team is getting it done a lot quicker than we ever thought it would,” Kemp said.Earlier, officials had said they hoped to reopen I-16, which connects much of Georgia to its coastline, by late next week after a crash knocked the overpass bridge from its support beams. Officials decided the fastest and safest way to reopen the intestate was to destroy the badly damaged overpass and replace it.A short stretch of the interstate has been closed in both directions after a tractor-trailer hit the overpass Thursday. Detours have been set up on nearby roads.“Apparently, the tractor-trailer has a dump bed similar to a dump truck,” said Russell McMurry, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation. “It appears that it was raised, which then struck the bridge.”The investigation into the crash is in its early stages, but “there are going to be some charges coming,” said Lt Col. William Hitchens III of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. He didn’t specify what those charges would be, saying that’s still under review.Interstate 16 is the main route used by many people from metro Atlanta who travel south to Macon and then take it toward Savannah and Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. The bridge is about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta.