The death of a mother of five whose body was discovered wrapped in a blanket in a thickly wooded area of a Milledgeville neighborhood last week still has many in the community emotionally shaken by what happened.
Authorities said it is believed she was killed up to three weeks ago. It is not known whether the victim was killed where her body was discovered or if she was killed elsewhere and her body taken to the wooded area where it was found last Wednesday afternoon.
The victim, believed to be LaTorra Michelle “Torra” Tillman, 33, of Milledgeville, was murdered, according to Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord.
But authorities have not publicly revealed how the woman, who worked as a taxi cab driver, was killed.
Swicord said a state medical examiner had informed him that he hopes to use DNA to help positively identify the woman and that he also hopes to provide police with a cause of death sometime today.
The woman’s badly decomposed body was taken for an autopsy to be performed at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory in Macon.
A man who had reportedly been dating the woman, and whom she had lived with from time to time, now stands accused of killing her.
That man was identified as 26-year-old Clemmon Jamar “C.J” Hunt, who remains in the Baldwin County Law Enforcement Center charged with felony murder.
Hunt, who was working as a dishwasher at a local restaurant, was taken into custody without incident at the Oconee River Greenway Park by Milledgeville Police Department Detective Keith Quattrocchi, according to a copy of a jail booking report.
Authorities told The Union-Recorder that Hunt had threatened to commit suicide on Friday, Sept. 4
The victim’s body was discovered several hundred yards behind a duplex apartment where Hunt lived.
Tillman was the mother of five children, ages 16, 11, 7, 5, and 2, according to her mother, Lillian Cole, a retired special education teacher, who reported her 33-year-old daughter missing earlier this month to Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office. Cole, who lives on Park Avenue in Milledgeville, and other family members are now caring for the children.
Alisha Little, one of Tillman’s younger sisters, told the newspaper in a telephone interview Monday morning that the family was doing the best it could to cope with the loss of their loved one.
“It’s so hard to believe she is gone,” said Little. “It doesn’t seem real.”
Tillman, who was known as Torra by family and close friends, reportedly had gone over to get some clothes and other items from Hunt’s apartment about three weeks ago.
“She didn’t take her phone or anything when she went over there,” recalled Little. “She was just going over there to get her things and bring them back to my mama’s house.”
Little said her older sister was planning to move back in with their mother again and her four daughters and son.
“But we never saw her or heard from her again,” said Little. “She was trying to turn her life around and hadn’t done drugs in a while.”
Little said her sister had expressed an interest in going to rehab to get off drugs for good.
“We were all pulling for her so much,” Little said.
Meanwhile, the man accused of killing Torra Tillman, C.J. Hunt, was described as a friendly, polite and respectful young man, according to Robbie Hattaway, the landlord whom Hunt had rented a duplex apartment from for the past year.
The apartment is located on Doles Boulevard, where Tillman reportedly was last seen alive, authorities said.
Hattaway said he was shocked to hear that Hunt was arrested as a suspect in the murder case.
“I couldn’t believe that he tried to kill himself or that he had killed this woman,” Hattaway said.
“They had to rescue him from the bridge.”
Hattaway remembers a different kind of guy when he first met Hunt.
“He was a young guy trying to make it on his own when he started renting from me about a year ago,” Hattaway told the newspaper in a telephone interview. “He was trying to get on his feet and I was trying to help him, I guess you would say.”
Hattaway said Hunt agreed to rent one side of the duplex apartment.
Hattaway said he had once asked Hunt to help him lift a transmission from a car that he was restoring.
Hattaway said he needed more hands and strength than what he could muster by himself.
“The last job that he had was as a dishwasher at the steakhouse,” Hattaway said.
He said it was his understanding that he was doing a good job there and that he was possibly in line for a promotion. He seemed to be well-liked there.
It wasn’t long though before Hunt’s life began going downhill, and drugs were a factor, according to authorities.
“He started laying out of work and hanging with what I thought was the wrong people,” Hattaway said. “You just can’t hang out with the wrong people, because they are just going to rub off on you. I tried my best to counsel with him because I thought a lot of the young man. I really did.”
Hunt got behind in his rent, which led Hattaway to draw up eviction papers against him through the local court system.
Hattaway said he didn’t want to see Hunt end up on the wrong side of the tracks of life or to run afoul of the law.
Hattaway confronted Hunt and tried to get him to straighten up. That was before he learned that Hunt had threatened to take his own life because he had reportedly killed his girlfriend.
Firefighters/first responders with Milledgeville Fire Rescue, as well as officers with the Milledgeville Police Department, and personnel with Grady Emergency Medical Services (EMS) all reportedly heard Hunt say that he was going to kill himself because he had killed his girlfriend, according to Police Chief Dray Swicord.
Hunt was later taken to a local facility for a mental evaluation and later released.
“As I understand it, the murder took place in the apartment,” Hattaway said.
He said police detectives went to the apartment where Hunt lived last Monday.
“They had a search warrant and looked for a long time in the apartment and in the woods behind the apartment,” Hattaway said, noting police still were attempting to find the missing woman at that time. “They didn’t know what had happened to her. All they had to go on was C.J.’s statement that he made to them when he was hysterical.”
Two days later, police were called to the area after a woman and some of her friends found what they believed to be a body wrapped up in a blanket in the woods, quite some distance from the rear of the apartment.
Later last Wednesday afternoon, police received a tip that Hunt had been seen at the Oconee River Greenway Park. Within minutes, Hunt was apprehended without incident, Swicord said.