Shada Esther
Photo: WALB-TV
Photo: WALB-TV

Man charged with murdering girlfriend whose remains were found in Banks County

An arrest has been made in connection with the death of a South Georgia woman whose skeletal remains were discovered in the woods along a Banks County highway two years ago.

Michael Heads, 49, was arrested in Slidell, Louisiana, on Tuesday and charged with the murder of Shada Esther, his former live-in girlfriend. 

Esther was reported missing by her family in August 2016 after she failed to pick up her three children from the bus stop, GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said.

An investigation into Esther’s disappearance determined that Heads was likely the last person to see her. He was interviewed by police and his vehicle was searched following Esther’s disappearance, but he wasn’t charged in the woman’s death until this week after her remains were positively identified, the GBI said.  

Michael Heads
Photo: St. Tammany Parish (La.) Sheriff’s Office

Esther’s body was discovered in February 2017 in a wooded area near Ga. 59 in Commerce, about one mile south of Exit 154 on I-85.

RELATED: GBI seeking to identify skeleton found in Banks County

Authorities were unable to identify the remains initially, and hoped a metal ring and butterfly necklace charm found at the scene would point them in the right direction.

This butterfly charm was found with the remains of Shada Esther, a South Georgia woman. Esther's former boyfriend was arrested in Louisiana this week and charged with her murder.
Photo: GBI

A forensic anthropologist noted the skeletal remains had similarities to Esther, but the body wasn’t positively identified until a DNA analysis this month, the GBI said.

Authorities have not said how the woman died. 

Heads was arrested in Louisiana with the help of the GBI, Moultrie police and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Miles said. He will be extradited to Georgia, where he is charged with murder and two counts of felony financial transaction card fraud.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call Moultrie police at 229-985-3131 or the GBI’s Thomasville office at 229-225-4090.

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