LaGrange's top cop hired to review Jorelys Rivera investigation

Canton has hired LaGrange Police Chief Louis Dekmar to review its police department's handling of the Jorelys Rivera investigation.

Dekmar will examine how Canton police conducted the search for the 7-year-old girl, who was abducted and slain at her apartment complex earlier this month. A maintenance man, Ryan Brunn, 20, is in jail facing murder charges for allegedly raping, beating and stabbing Jorelys before dumping her body in a trash compactor.

Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood called for a review of the police response Dec. 15 after questions were raised by several members of the community, including Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison.

It was Garrison who called for GBI assistance two days after Jorelys disappeared, even though his department was not in charge of the search. A case of that magnitude required a specially trained unit with more expertise, Garrison told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this month.

Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance has said he supports the review.

Several deputies and a firefighter told an internal affairs investigator for the Sheriff's Department that on Dec. 3, the day after Jorelys disappeared, it was unclear who was in charge of the search. Nobody debriefed deputies or firefighters after they checked vacant apartments, including Unit No. 10009, which was later determined to be the crime scene, according to the internal affairs report.

Two firefighters, a Cherokee Search and Rescue team member and two deputies later said they noticed blood in that apartment but didn't realize it was relevant because they believed they were looking for a missing girl and not a crime scene. They did not report the discovery of blood until two days later.

It's unlikely police could have saved Jorelys' life, since autopsy results showed she died within two hours of her disappearance and before a police search got under way.

Ricardo Galarza, Jorelys' father, told MundoHispanico that Canton police mishandled the case and did not keep the family well informed.

“Nobody will bring me back my daughter’s life, but I am not going to stay here just watching, after the mistakes that they did, because those mistakes shouldn’t happen again with anyone else," Galarza said.

Dekmar, who will be paid $150 an hour, is expected complete the review within a few weeks.

Dekmar has 34 years of police experience and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He serves as a commissioner and chair/president for the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, and is a member of the Georgia Board of Public Safety.