GILLSVILLE, Ga. (WFLA) — A Georgia man said that his good deed in picking up a hitchhiker ended up bringing him and his son in close contact with a murder suspect.
In an interview with WXIA in Atlanta, Russell Jimerson, of Gillsville, said he and his son were on the way to Lula, Georgia, to pick up a paycheck when they came across a man walking down the road.
“He just stuck his hand out, just I mean very quickly,” Jimerson told WXIA. “I told my son ‘let’s get ‘em.’ I help everybody.”
He said the hitchhiker, identified as Keegan Phillips, 23, of North Carolina, was confused about where he wanted to go, but the only thing that stood out was the horrible smell that came from the man and his backpack.
Last Tuesday, Jimerson and his son picked up the same hitchhiker again, but this time, he didn’t have his backpack. The man told his two benefactors he was walking from Rabun County, Georgia, but didn’t say why.
Jimerson said he dropped his passenger off at the Gillsville Highway and thought nothing of it until he started getting calls from friends who heard there was a murderer on the loose.
“My buddy said ‘Is this a joke, did you pick up a hitchhiker?'” he said.
As it would turn out, Phillips was wanted on a murder warrant after deputies in Rabun County and agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found human remains in the Chattahoochee National Forest on the morning of Aug. 7. At the time, they were looking for Martha Angela Ledford, who went missing the week before the body was found.
Authorities said the remains were in a shallow grave, but they could not identify the body due to its condition at the time.
After realizing he potentially picked up a murderer, Jimerson called 911.
Deputies later found Phillips after he was held at gunpoint by a homeowner in Hall County, Georgia, Tuesday afternoon. The Rabun County Sheriff’s Office said by the time deputies arrived, Phillips ran into the woods but was found later that night.
Phillips was charged with murder. Another man, Robert Lee Peppers, was also arrested on charges of concealing the death of another and abandonment of a dead body, according to deputies.