Memorial service planned for missing college student after human remains discovered

DNA testing is planned to determine whether human remains found last week during the search for missing college student Jmaal Keyes are that of the Paulding County high school graduate, the GBI said Tuesday in a statement.

“We didn’t see this day coming,” said Keyes’ pastor, Wilbur Purvis.

But Keyes’ parents have accepted the likelihood that the remains are Jmaal’s, moving ahead with plans for a memorial service Saturday at Destiny World Church in Austell.

“They’re devastated, disappointed,” Purvis said. “We had hoped the news would be much more favorable. It’s a very tough time for the family.”

The remains were collected on Cabero Road in an area adjacent to suspect Robert Kane Rolison’s Hawkinsville residence. They were discovered near a burned-out cabin in Pulaski County where additional evidence was gathered on Friday, GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang said.

Rolison, 17, made his first appearance in court Sunday on murder charges, but no date was set for his bond hearing. He is being held at the Bleckley County jail.

Lang said the State Crime Lab will perform the DNA tests, which could be completed within the next week.

Keyes was last seen April 25 leaving his dormitory on the Middle Georgia State College campus in Cochran. Rolison was dual-enrolled at MGSC — where he apparently became acquainted with Keyes — and a local high school.

Officials have yet to divulge a motive for the killing, or how Rolison allegedly killed Keyes, a criminal justice major.

“None of that matters,” said Purvis, quoting the victim’s mother. “We can not move on until we forgive this person. Her faith is very much intact.”

—Staff photographer Ben Gray contributed to this report.