Police release photo of Piedmont Park victim, renew calls for help

Atlanta police increasing patrols after ‘gruesome’ killing of Midtown woman and her dog
The bodies of Katherine "Katie" Janness and her dog Bowie were discovered in Piedmont Park on Wednesday morning after they did not return from their evening walk. Janness was stabbed multiple times, according to police.

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The bodies of Katherine "Katie" Janness and her dog Bowie were discovered in Piedmont Park on Wednesday morning after they did not return from their evening walk. Janness was stabbed multiple times, according to police.

As the sun came up Wednesday, joggers, dog-walkers and other early risers resumed their morning routines at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park.

Gone was the crime scene tape, evidence markers and swarms of investigators that indicated a grisly scene the night before. Shortly after 1 a.m., Katherine Janness and her dog, Bowie, were both found dead about 100 yards inside the park’s 10th Street entrance at Charles Allen Drive.

The 40-year-old’s body had been stabbed “multiple times,” according to Atlanta police. Authorities did not say how the dog was killed, but Deputy Chief Charles Hampton described the scene to Channel 2 Action News in one word: “Gruesome.”

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Investigators worked through the night to collect evidence but were hampered by darkness, Hampton told the news station. At daybreak, they went door-to-door asking neighbors for surveillance footage that might help them retrace Janness’ steps and help them identify a motive in her death.

She was spotted on one camera walking her dog through the rainbow crosswalk at 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue. In a surveillance image released by police, she is wearing a T-shirt and dark pants and leading a medium-sized black dog.

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Authorities told Channel 2 that Janness had dinner with her wife Tuesday evening, and later took the dog for a walk in Midtown. Her wife began to worry when Janness never returned home and tracked her cellphone to the park, where she discovered the body, the news station reported.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is not revealing some details from the scene due to their graphic nature. Investigators in diving gear returned to the park Wednesday afternoon, scouring the lake for any evidence that might assist in the case.

Janness was a bartender at nearby Campagnolo Restaurant and Bar and was supposed to work Wednesday evening, Channel 2 reported. By late afternoon, there was a growing memorial at the park’s entrance as mourners dropped off flowers and dog treats.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

A $10,000 reward has been offered for information in the brutal killing inside Atlanta’s premiere park. The sprawling 185-acre greenspace is typically bustling during the summer months, and Atlanta police pledged Wednesday to increase patrols in and around the park in an attempt to reassure residents.

“We want the public to know that the park is safe,” said Chata Spikes, APD’s director of public affairs. On Thursday, the department renewed calls for the public to submit tips and help solve the case.

Credit: Crime Stoppers Atlanta

Credit: Crime Stoppers Atlanta

The woman’s death comes as many Atlanta residents remain on edge amid a rise in violent crime across the city. Atlanta police have investigated at least 82 homicides since the start of the year, and crime has become a central issue in November’s mayoral race.

On Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp announced he would use $2 million in emergency money to fund a newly formed “crime suppression unit” to combat crime in Georgia’s capital city.

Authorities declined to release additional details about the fatal stabbing, citing the ongoing investigation. The department also reminded residents that city parks are closed each night from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Janness’ body was the first to be found in a metro Atlanta park Wednesday. Hours later, parkgoers on a morning walk in Gwinnett County discovered the body of a woman beneath a tree at Yellow River Park near Stone Mountain. She had been shot to death, according to Gwinnett County police.

A motive has also eluded investigators in that case.

In a statement, the president of the Midtown Neighbors’ Association said residents could put questions to the Atlanta Police Department and other local leaders about the deadly stabbing and other recent crimes at an upcoming National Night Out event.

“It’s an annual event to show appreciation for our first responders, but we anticipate this year there will be a heightened focus on what our leaders are doing to curb these very serious violent crime trends,” Courtney R. Smith said.

The event is scheduled for Aug. 3 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The $10,000 reward in the Piedmont Park case is being offered through Crime Stoppers Atlanta. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000, by contacting the organization at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting the Crime Stoppers website.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.

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