Convicted murderer indicted in 1982 cold case

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A convicted murderer who was already serving jail time for a murder in Stewart County has been indicted by a grand jury in the 1982 killing of René Dawn Blackmore.

On Monday, March 28, a Chattahoochee County Grand Jury indicted 64-year-old Marcellus McCluster, formerly of Richland, for the1982 murder of René Dawn Blackmore, then age 20, of Arizona. 

Blackmore, a U.S. Army Private stationed at Fort Benning, disappeared upon leaving her barracks on the way to Columbus the night of April 29, 1982. Almost a month later, her wallet and sweater were found on a roadside near Cusseta. 

On June 28, 1982, Blackmore’s remains were discovered off a logging road a few miles further south in Chattahoochee County. She had been killed by a shotgun blast.

“The U.S. Army CID and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation identified McCluster as a possible offender within a year, but the original investigation eventually stalled,” GBI Director Vic Reynolds said.

In late 2020, Reynolds established the agency’s Cold Case Unit, which is comprised of retired GBI investigators. Blackmore’s death was an initial focus of the unit, which worked with Army CID, the Chattahoochee County Sheriff’s Office, and the Office of District Attorney for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit to develop the case further.

The resulting indictment of McCluster includes one count of Malice Murder and four counts of Felony Murder.

GBI agents subsequently served McCluster with an arrest warrant at a Georgia Department of Corrections facility near Augusta, where he is serving a life sentence for an unrelated 1983 Stewart County murder conviction. Arraignment in Chattahoochee County is scheduled for April 25.

“We don’t know what René Blackmore’s life would have been like. We know that she didn’t get to celebrate her 21st birthday, but we don’t know what accomplishments she would have celebrated. We know that she would have been 59 years old if she could have been with us today,” Macon Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Schwartz said. “We don’t know who she would have loved, what relationships she might have built what dreams she might have realized. All of those things got extinguished by a blast from a cheap shotgun about two miles from the middle of nowhere down in South Chattahoochee County 40 years ago.”

Anyone with investigative information about the Blackmore case is urged to contact the GBI at 1-800-597-TIPS (8477) or online at  Anonymous tips are accepted.