Teen beating death: Fatal party began small, grew out of control

The party where a Douglasville teenager was beaten to death over the weekend started out small and quiet, but grew large and rowdy as the night went on, a witness told the AJC on Monday.

John Howell lives next door to the home where the party took place. Monday morning, he recalled the events that led up to Bobby Tillman’s death around midnight Saturday night.

“From what I saw, there was a small house party that started off,” Howell told the AJC.

“Within an hour to two hours, there were about 80 kids here,” he said. “They were not disruptive at first, then all of a sudden the music got real loud.”

Howell said that at one point, he looked out his window and noticed that “everyone was giving each other high fives and hugs and stuff like that, so I thought it was going to be all right.

“About 10 minutes later, the noise gets a bit quiet, so I lay down to try to go to sleep, and about 30 minutes after that, I look out the window and the whole neighborhood is full of cops, fire trucks, ambulances, everything.”

Howell said his next-door neighbors “just moved in a few months ago. In fact, I didn’t even see them move in, they were so quiet. They keep to themselves, so for this party to show up the way it did was totally unexpected.”

Douglas County authorities said Tillman, 18, did nothing to provoke the attack. The assault occurred after two girls began fighting outside the party, Sheriff Phil Miller said.

One of the females hit a male, who said he wouldn't hit a girl but would hit the next male that walked by, Miller said. The 5-feet-6-inch, 124-pound Tillman was the next male. Several people then joined in the attack on Tillman, investigators said.

Tillman was still breathing when deputies arrived at the scene, Miller said. Deputies administered CPR to the teen, but he did not survive.

Four other teenagers, ages 18 and 19, were arrested and are being held at the Douglas County Jail.