If Chad Haufler intended to kill Marc Dimos as authorities allege, he spent little time formulating a credible story.
Early Tuesday morning, the 45-year-old ex-firefighter called 911 saying he shot an intruder inside his $1.9 million home in the prestigious Reynolds Lake Oconee community, formerly Reynolds Plantation.
But there was no home invasion. The victim had been at the house since Sunday, invited by Haufler to enjoy some “guys time,” said the suspect’s attorney, Manny Arora.
“They were very good friends,” he said. “There was no animus between them.”
Arora said he believes alcohol likely played a role in the shooting. Perhaps it was an accident, or an argument that spiraled out of control.
Whatever the reason, investigators say Haufler’s story didn’t add up.
“From the point of the initial phone call to 911 to the point of where he was questioned by agents and investigators,” Greene County Sheriff Donnie Harrison told Channel 2 Action News. “There were things leading to us believe what he actually said did not actually take place.”
Authorities have offered no potential motive for the shooting.
Haufler was able to retire at an early age due to some investment risks that paid off handsomely, Arora said. The Ocala, Florida resident spent much of his time on the ocean fishing. He had a new boat, a new house and, in June, celebrated a personal milestone, writing on Facebook, “25 years ago I hooked the catch of my life. Happy anniversary, Monica Haufler. I love you more than you’ll ever know.”
Monica Haufler was not present at the time of the shooting. Neither was Dimos’ wife.
Dimos’ body was found in the basement.
Haufler was taken in for questioning late Tuesday by Greene County sheriff’s deputies and the GBI. At 10:30 p.m., the GBI announced a murder warrant had been obtained for the suspect, who is being held at the Greene County Detention Center. A bond hearing will take place early next week, Arora said.
The murder mystery is just the latest in a series of high-profile crimes involving residents of the Reynolds Lake Oconee Community. In 2010, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who owned a second home there, was accused of rape by a Georgia College and State University student. Roethlisberger was not charged.
Two years later, police arrested Andrea Sneiderman at her parents’ home inside Reynolds, charging the mother of two with causing the death of her husband. Rusty Sneiderman was shot and killed two years earlier outside a Dunwoody day care center by his wife’s boss and paramour, Hemy Neuman. The murder charge was eventually dropped but Andrea Sneiderman was convicted and sentenced to prison for perjury and hindering the apprehension of a killer.
Another infamous Atlanta murder suspect, Claud “Tex” McIver, who lived on a ranch nearby in Putman County, was a member of Reynolds’ country club. He was found guilty earlier this year of fatally shooting his wife, Diane, in the back while driving back to Atlanta.
But no case resonates inside this gated community like the unsolved 2014 murders of Russell and Shirley Dermond. Neighbors found the decapitated body of Russell Dermond, 88, inside his garage. (His head was never located.) Ten days later, his wife’s bloated body was found floating in Lake Oconee, about five miles from her home. Investigators say she was hit repeatedly with a blunt object.
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