Cold Case: Murder of Timothy Coggins resolved after 34 years

The News: William “Bill” Moore pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and concealing the death of another in the death of Timothy Coggins in 1983. The 58-year-old will serve 20 years in prison followed by 10 years of probation.

In June, Moore’s co-defendant, Franklin Gebhardt was convicted for malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another. The 59-year-old was sentenced to life plus 30 years.

What happened to Timothy Coggins?: According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Timothy Coggins was brutally stabbed in a field near Minter Road in Sunnyside, Georgia on October 7, 1983.

The investigation into the murder lasted just two months and the guilty parties were not found. The case was re-investigated in 2016 by the GBI and the Spalding County Sheriff’s office to reveal the chilling details of Coggins death and the cover-up that followed.

According to interviews the GBI conducted with witnesses, Gebhardt and Moore had provided details over they ears of Coggins being stabbed, chained behind a vehicle and dragged in a field. According to the GBI, Gebhardt alleged he threw the knife used to stab Coggins down a well.

The weapon, the victim’s undershirt shoes and socks were not recovered in the original investigation.

Technology to the rescue: The mystery surrounding Coggins’ death did not stay buried at the bottom of a well. Using a Hydrovac system, investigators excavated a well on Gebhardt’s property and recovered a knife, a white tank top, shoes, socks and a chain. It was the first time a Hydrovac system was used to excavate a well in Georgia.

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