The TVOne true-crime show "ATL Homicide" featured the 2001 murder of Demetrius Robbins, who police found dismembered months after his killing. Two men were quickly held on murder charges in the killing, but a third man, Chaunson Lavel McKibbins, remained on the run for the next two years. McKibbins, who police say sometimes disguised himself as a woman, was on the FBI Top Ten Fugitive list until he was captured at an Atlanta gas station.
“ATL Homicide,” now in its second season, recreates cases as told by David Quinn and Vince Velazquez, two retired Atlanta Police Department homicide detectives.
Here's how The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covered the Robbins killing as the case unfolded. You can find the AJC's coverage of other "ATL Homicide" cases here.
From March 1, 2002:
Law & Order | 2 held after remains found
Two people have been arrested, and police are searching for two or three more in connection with the discovery of human remains Thursday.
The Atlanta Police Department and Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office discovered the remains in the area of 1441 Constitution Road about 10 a.m. Positive identification is pending, but authorities believe the remains are those of Demetrius Robbins, 28, of northwest Atlanta, said Atlanta police Sgt. John Quigley.
A father of two, Robbins was reported missing by his family in November. The nature of death has yet to be determined, but violent crime is likely the cause, Quigley said.
An ongoing investigation led officers to the area where the remains were found, Quigley said. Police did not release the names of the two suspects or the charges they faced.
From June 6, 2002:
Law & Order briefs | FBI seeks suspect in dismemberment
A Georgia man is wanted by the FBI for his alleged involvement in the murder and dismemberment of a northwest Atlanta man. Chaunson Lavel McKibbins, 31, was seen Nov. 18, 2001, forcing Demetrius Robbins, 28, into the back of a black car, authorities said. Robbins' body parts were found Feb. 27 in plastic bags in a shallow grave on Constitution Road in southeast Atlanta. His head was found on Cascade Road, more than 20 miles away. McKibbins, indicted on Fulton murder charges Feb. 28, is described as a black male, 6 feet tall, weighing 170 pounds, with possibly shoulder-length hair, worn in dreadlocks.
From Oct. 30, 2004:
Smooth criminal in custody at last
By Rhonda Cook
Chaunson Lavel McKibbins, wanted in Atlanta in the torture and dismemberment of a man who allegedly stole his cocaine, was calculating and smart.
Though pictured on FBI posters and twice featured on the television show "America's Most Wanted," there were times during his five years on the lam when McKibbins hid in plain sight.
Police believe he dressed as a woman so he could attend his son's football games. They say it's also possible the fugitive was at the 14-year-old's funeral after the boy was hit by a truck while riding his bike in August. Police staked out mourners for 72 hours, but "he never came" as far as investigators could tell, according to Atlanta police Sgt. M.J. Lewis.
Lewis, a member of the Metro Fugitive Task Force, said McKibbins managed to hide for almost three years while still running his drug operation in metro Atlanta.
"He's real calculating," Lewis said. "He let you know what he wanted you to know. He could follow all the rules [to remain hidden] and not break them. He was very disciplined."
But McKibbins, whose street name was "C-Bo," was finally caught early Friday while he waited in a car parked at the gas pumps of a Phillips 66 gas station on Fairburn Road at I-85 in south Fulton County.
His capture came just a few weeks short of the three-year anniversary of Demetrius Robbins' slaying for allegedly stealing a kilo of cocaine from McKibbins and his drug enterprise.
A $100,000 reward will be given to an unidentified person who helped authorities catch McKibbins, who was being held in the Fulton County jail, according to Lewis.
McKibbins, 33, is charged with killing Robbins and cutting up the 27-year-old's body with a chain saw on Nov. 18, 2001. Robbins' head was buried in Fulton County, and the rest of him was buried in DeKalb County.
Atlanta Homicide Det. Vincent Velazquez said he thought the reason Robbins was beheaded and the rest of his body cut into nine parts "was more for transportation purposes" than to send a message to other members of McKibbins' drug operation.
At the time of Robbins slaying, McKibbins was already running from authorities. During a break in his 1999 cocaine trafficking trial in Fulton County, McKibbins excused himself to go to the bathroom and didn't return. He was convicted and sentenced in abstentia to 20 years in prison.
Two years after his disappearance in the drug case, McKibbins became a suspect in Robbins' death. Robbins, who police said was a member of McKibbins' drug operation, was reported missing by his wife in November 2001. He was presumed dead after his DNA from a toothbrush was matched with blood at the scene of a shooting that same month. His body parts were found in February 2002.
McKibbins and five associates were charged with killing Robbins, whom they accused of stealing a kilo of cocaine from their drug operation. Two of the associates entered guilty pleas before going to trial. Three were acquitted of murder, but one of them still faces kidnapping charges because a jury could not agree on guilt or innocence on that offense, according to police.
The Metro Fugitive Task Force --- staffed by members of the Atlanta Police Department, the FBI, U.S. Marshals and the Fulton County Sheriff's Department --- found McKibbins was as elusive as a ghost.
Lewis said he was tracked to South Florida and to Alabama, and investigators staked out the homes of his mother and aunts as well as other relatives and acquaintances in metro Atlanta.
And they came close to catching him a few times.
"The guy is good," Lewis said. "He doesn't use a cellphone. He would walk up to somebody and give them money to use their cellphone. He would have people relay messages. He would double back a lot. He was advanced in his technique. He never drives himself. He's been pulled over several times, but he was never arrested because he was a passenger [so he was not asked for an ID]."
Police went to McKibbins son's football games and practices, hoping that the drug trafficker's love for his son would be his undoing.
"Several times he dressed in drag to throw us off, and it threw us off," Lewis said. "He was very selective about what he did and when he did it."
Even though "people on the street were terrified of him," Lewis said investigators were surprised that McKibbins' capture was relatively uneventful.
Police first thought of capturing him earlier in the night, but there were too many people around who could have been hurt or killed if there had been gunfire. So they waited until McKibbins and a student from Tuskegee University in Alabama pulled into a station to buy gas.
Once the student walked inside the station, police blocked the green Honda holding McKibbins and ordered him to show his hands. McKibbins uttered an obscenity to himself, then said, "You got me." The student, who was not identified, also was taken into custody.
"He was very calm," Lewis said. "It was almost like he was tired of running."
From Nov. 5, 2004:
'Death stare' for grieving family?
Prosecutor says alleged murderer had a chilling message for his victim's kin in court.
By Beth Warren
A former fugitive accused of torturing and dismembering a longtime friend strolled into the courtroom Thursday and gave the victim's family what one prosecutor called a "death stare."
Chaunson Lavel McKibbins, a convicted cocaine trafficker, is charged with killing Demetrius Robbins, 27, because he believed Robbins had stolen a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine from his drug enterprise, Fulton County prosecutor Al Dixon said.
McKibbins, 33, a fugitive since 1999, was nabbed last week.
He was led into court Thursday by the sheriff's SWAT team for a pretrial hearing. He turned and glared at the victim's mother, grandmother, cousins and aunts, who were seated behind prosecutors.
"Did you see the look he gave?" Dixon said outside the courtroom. "He gave the family a death stare."
Prosecutors charged McKibbins and five associates with kidnapping Robbins on Nov. 18, 2001, taking him to an apartment and beating him. Police said he later was tortured and killed Nov. 19 or 20.
Investigators allege that McKibbins then cut up the body with a chain saw. Robbins' head was buried in Fulton County, and the rest of him was buried in DeKalb County.
McKibbins already was running from authorities when Robbins was kidnapped and killed.
McKibbins was on trial for cocaine trafficking charges in 1999 when he asked to use the restroom and never returned to the courtroom. Jurors convicted him in absentia and the judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison.
Investigators believe McKibbins kept on the move throughout Georgia, Florida and Alabama and even dressed in drag to avoid capture.
Acting on a tip, police closed in on McKibbins last Friday after he pulled into a Phillips 66 gas station on Fairburn Road at I-85 in south Fulton County to buy gas.
Prosecutors are now fighting for a conviction in the Robbins killing, which carries an automatic life sentence in prison. McKibbins is charged with murder, felony murder, kidnapping with bodily injury, concealing a death and tampering with evidence, prosecutors said.
During the pretrial hearing Thursday, McKibbins told Fulton Superior Court Judge Alice Bonner that he didn't need a court-appointed lawyer because his family planned to hire prominent attorney Bruce Harvey.
Two of McKibbins' associates entered guilty pleas. Three were acquitted of murder, but one still faces kidnapping charges because a jury could not agree on guilt or innocence on that offense.
Fulton prosecutor Shondeana Crews said she's relieved McKibbins, considered the ringleader, is back in custody.
"It's been a long time coming," Crews said.
Learn more about the trial against Chaunson McKibbins here.
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