A stolen wallet and a good Samaritan helped two Atlanta detectives solve a double-murder case in Little Five Points, police Chief George Turner said Tuesday.
“With tremendous investigative effort … we were able to take very small clues and get them to the point where we were able to arrest four individuals,” Turner said, praising Detectives Vince Velazquez and Calvin Thomas.
Joseph Hruska, 33, and Chaitanyalila Kelsey, 32, were killed March 14 in the parking lot of the Vortex Bar & Grill at 468 Moreland Ave. Police say the shooting happened shortly after gunmen robbed two people in the nearby Virginia Highland neighborhood.
Police charged Charlie Baldwin, 17, Jacques Allen, 17 and Thomas Dozier, 25 with murder and armed robbery charges. They did not release the name of the 14-year-old, who they said is being charged as an adult.
Turner said the arrests demonstrated the “the tenacity of our homicide unit.” But it was still unclear Tuesday whether police have a strong case is against the four people charged.
Capt. Michael O’Connor declined to say whether the four had confessed or made a statement to police. He also would not disclose any physical evidence tying the suspects to the double killing.
“We’ve had a number of things that tie them specifically to the crime,” O’Connor said. “We’re not taking any other questions about investigative details at this time.”
Instead, O’Connor focused on the timeline for two armed robberies and the double murder, which occurred within 15 minutes of each other. The captain said a man who found a stolen wallet brought the case full circle because it proved whoever stole the wallet had time to commit the killings. The charged men had previously been charged with the other robberies, police said.
Last Friday, Velazquez and Thomas asked the public for help in finding the man who returned the wallet to a bartender at the North Highland Pub, where a bartender contacted the owner.
The detectives wanted to find out exactly where and when the man found the wallet — which had been stolen in one of the robberies — to see if the people who had been accused in the robberies could be linked to the double killing.
On Tuesday, O’Connor said that was exactly what the detectives were able to do.
Police had no witnesses who saw the shootings, but an employee of the Vortex heard the shots.
The first victim was found lying on the ground. When officers arrived, they said they found the body of the second man about 30 feet away.
“There is an indication that one was running away when he was shot,” Velazquez said last week.“There was just no reason for it.”
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