CLAYTON, Ga. – A Georgia motorist traveling with his son saw a hitchhiker along the road and decided to help the individual by giving him a ride. They later learned the “foul-smelling” man was actually a suspect in a homicide investigation, according to reports.
Russell Jimmerson was driving Tuesday morning when he saw a stranger off to the side of the road thumbing a ride, so he offered the man a lift. The hitchhiker, later identified as Keegan Phillips, 23, had a backpack on and “absolutely reeked” once he got into the truck. Unbeknownst to the well-intentioned father and son duo, their new passenger was also wanted for murder.
“He just stuck his hand out, just very quickly. I told my son, ‘Let’s get him.’ I help everybody,” Jimmerson told WXIA. “He’d been up all night, walking from Rabun County.”
Jimmerson dropped Phillips off along the highway a short time later. Not long after, he learned he had just given a ride to an alleged killer.
Local residents became aware that law enforcement authorities were searching for a murder suspect who was on the loose. Jimmerson received a phone call and was told that a “guy in Rabun County” murdered someone the previous evening, the New York Post reported.
Jimmerson’s replied to the unidentified caller, “’Man, you won’t believe what I’m fixing to tell you. There’s a smell in this that’s awful.”
Phillips, of North Carolina, was later captured without incident and charged with murder. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation provided the following details in a press release on Tuesday:
The GBI and the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office are conducting a murder investigation. Keegan Cleve Phillips, age 23, of Otto, North Carolina, has been charged with murder. Robert Lee Peppers, age 62, of Lula, Georgia has been charged with concealing a death and unlawful disposal of a body.
On Sunday, August 6, 2023, the GBI regional investigative office in Cleveland was requested by the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office to assist them in a murder investigation. The Rabun County Sheriff’s Office received information that a man killed a person and disposed of the body in Rabun County, Georgia. Based on the information received, agents and deputies found the body of the victim on Monday, August 7, 2023, in the Chattahoochee – Oconee National Forest.
Today, the GBI, the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office, the Banks County Sheriff’s Office, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office, and the Georgia State Patrol conducted an extensive search in the area of Gillsville Highway, Hall County, Georgia. Police found Phillips and arrested him without incident.
Phillips and Peppers were each booked at the Rabun County Detention Center.
GBI said the investigation remains ongoing. Once the case is finished, it will be submitted to the Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.