Family and friends of Carter Davis and Natalie Henderson listen to the testimony of Roswell Police Department Det. Jennifer Bennett during the probable cause hearing of Jeffrey Hazelwood. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
Photo: Brant Sanderlin
Photo: Brant Sanderlin

Suspect in Roswell killings confessed all, police say — except motive

To our readers: Some of the material below is deeply disturbing. It represents what the suspect told police about the crime, and some readers will be upset by the details.

UPDATE: Jeffrey Hazelwood pleaded not guilty in the murders of two Roswell teenagers found dead between a Roswell Publix.

About 3 a.m. on Aug. 1, Jeffrey Hazelwood climbed to the roof of a Publix store in Roswell. He watched the two teenagers parked behind the store for 20 minutes. Seventeen-year-olds Carter Davis and Natalie Henderson likely did not know Hazelwood, their alleged killer, and police said it does not appear he knew them.

Until Friday’s probable cause hearing, police had said little about the man charged in the double homicide. And while they introduced plenty of evidence Friday linking Hazelwood to the shocking crime, they still offered no insights into why.

Roswell Police Detective Jennifer Bennett said they had no motive and were unaware of any significant connection between Hazelwood, 20, and Davis and Henderson. When Bennett first interviewed him after his arrest on Aug. 3, Hazelwood responded to her questions in a British accent, the detective testified. Initially he said he was directed to kill by someone named Matt, but police believe he acted alone.

“He’s had a very troubled life,” said Lawrence Zimmerman, one of Hazelwood’s attorneys. He said his client has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Asperger’s Syndrome, multiple personality disorder and bipolar disorder.

Hazelwood eventually confessed to shooting both teens in the head, Bennett said. He told her he had surprised the two, who were in Natalie’s SUV, by opening the hatchback. He was then confronted by Carter, an athletic lacrosse player much bigger than the slight, nervous-acting Hazelwood.

According to Bennett, Hazelwood said he pistol-whipped Carter and then shot him out of fear of retribution. He used a 9 mm firearm stolen from his grandfather, according to the detective.

As she described what happened next, Detective Bennett was overcome with emotion. Hazelwood told her he ordered Natalie out of the car and made her disrobe. He said he sexually assaulted her with his hand and then directed her to face the vehicle and place her hands on the hood. He then spanked the teenager, he said, and shot her in the head.

Natalie was discovered by police naked and posed in a sexually suggestive position while Carter, shirtless and wearing athletic shorts, was found with his arms stretched out as if on a cross, according to police statements that accompanied the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s report.

Hazelwood actually visited the area behind the Publix three times that night, Bennett said. The first time he arrived, Natalie’s SUV wasn’t there. He told police that he left.

He returned a little after 3 a.m., this time spotting Carter and Natalie in her car.

After the shootings, Hazelwood told police, he drove to Woodstock and stopped to buy gas, using Natalie’s ATM card to pay. At the gas station he wore a Guy Fawkes mask, which was popularized in the movie “V for Vendetta.”

About an hour later, he returned to the Publix, still wearing the Fawkes mask, and stole Carter’s jumper cables, apparently out of concern that his car would break down. He was seen on surveillance video running from the scene; likewise, his image was captured, with the mask, when he had earlier bought gas.

Hazelwood was arrested within 48 hours of the slayings. Police said they found the mask and the jumper cables in Hazelwood’s Honda Passport.

Investigators uncovered conflicting details from Hazelwood’s background. He had no prior criminal record and held two jobs, at Michael’s and Walmart, where managers told police he was a good employee.

But his grandparents, who raised Hazelwood from birth, told police they had been afraid of him “for a long time,” Bennett testified. They had set a deadline of Aug. 1 — the day of the fatal shootings — for him to move out of their Roswell home.

“He is very mentally ill,” Zimmerman said. He then cautioned reporters to remember only one side of the story has come out thus far.

In contrast to his first appearance in court, when he was shaking and acting erratically, Hazelwood remained composed throughout the hearing, scribbling stick figures on a notepad.

His case is scheduled to be heard by a grand jury on Sept. 9, at which point prosecutors will seek an 11-count indictment, including two counts of malice murder and two counts of felony murder. He has been in jail since his arrest.

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Staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this article