Photo By MYRA THRIFT
This sign posted beside the South Georgia Parkway at the home of Forest and Margaret Thomas in Nahunta is just one of many signs calling for “Justice for Edith” Sheffield.
Driving around the roads of Brantley County, it’s not uncommon to spot signs here and there in the yards of citizens calling for “Justice for Edith.”
A lot of Brantley County folks were blood kin to “Edith” Carol Strickland Sheffield, and even more were friends with her through school, church and community events.
It’s been a little more than two years now since Sheffield, who was 49 years old, was found dead in the charred remains of her house near Broxton a day after it burned down. The fire occurred Jan. 18, 2013, on Bowens Mill Road.
Sheffield had been reported missing that same Friday afternoon — before the fire — and an intensive search was begun, but no one could find a clue as to where she had gone. Her body was found in the ashes the next day.
But she didn’t die in the fire.
Law enforcement officials deduced that she was brutally murdered and her body was placed in the house that was then burned.
“It was definitely a murder,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent-in-Charge Russell Mansfield, of the Douglas GBI Office. “This is still an active case and we are investigating it as a homicide.”
The GBI and Coffee County law enforcement have been searching for a killer ever since. Results of the autopsy report from the GBI Douglas office show that she died of a gunshot wound.
Sheffield was the daughter of the Rev. and Mrs. Marshall (Vera) Strickland, of Nahunta. She had numerous close relatives and hundreds of close friends in Brantley County who continue to mourn her passing and still wait for answers about her death.
Mansfield said although it has been two years since her death and the death was ruled a homicide, there has still not been enough evidence to lead lawmen to make an arrest.
“There is no question she was murdered,” Mansfield said. “We are still very actively working the case but have nothing that has led us to make any arrest at this point.”
Mansfield said the case will remain open and the investigation will remain active until answers are found.
The fire was reported at 6:40 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. Fire crews worked for nearly an hour to “knock the fire down” enough for emergency crews to enter the house. They did not find her body until a day later. Her “badly charred” body was identified by the use of dental records.
One of her friends described her as “always smiling. She was a very sweet compassionate Christian lady. Douglas, Ga. has lost a very wonderful Christian lady, spouse, mother, grandmother, daughter-in-law and most of all, we have lost a dear friend.”
Another friend pointed to the many hearts that are broken over her death and referred to her as a very sweet, compassionate and elegant Christian lady.
After two long years, her family, her friends and many citizens of Brantley and Coffee counties continue to wait, hope and pray for “Justice for Edith.”