Neighbors eager for answers on Piedmont Park homicide ahead of National Night Out event

Atlanta mayor to address what she calls a “COVID crime wave”
210801-Atlanta-Chip Powell hugs Andrew Hoekstra before a vigil for Midtown stabbing victim Katie Janness on Sunday evening, August 1, 2021 at Piedmont Park. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

210801-Atlanta-Chip Powell hugs Andrew Hoekstra before a vigil for Midtown stabbing victim Katie Janness on Sunday evening, August 1, 2021 at Piedmont Park. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Midtown Atlanta residents want answers in the brutal killing of a longtime resident and her dog. Katherine “Katie” Janness and her dog were stabbed to death last week inside Piedmont Park.

While Atlanta police and the FBI investigate, anxious neighbors hope to learn more.

On the first Tuesday of August, law enforcement agencies across the country head into communities with one goal: Making neighborhoods safe. For the city of Atlanta, this year’s National Night Out event comes at a time when violent crimes have many on edge.

“This past week has generated some very real concerns about public safety,” the Midtown Neighbors’ Association posted on Facebook. “Join us to connect with your incredible neighbors and ask our leaders the questions you need answered.”

On Tuesday evening, Atlanta officers will be throughout the city where events are being hosted, giving residents the opportunity to interact with law enforcement. Earlier Tuesday, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta police Chief Rodney Bryant plan to hold a news conference to discuss what Bottoms has repeatedly called a “COVID crime wave.”

The Atlanta Police Department investigated 157 homicides in 2020, up from 99 in 2019 and the most in more than two decades. This year, the department has investigated nearly 90 homicides.

Katie Janness, left, was found dead early Wednesday at Piedmont Park. Her longtime girlfriend, Emma Clark, used a tracking device to find Janness when she didn't answer her phone.

Credit: Family photo

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Credit: Family photo

On July 28, 40-year-old Janess and her dog, Bowie, were both found stabbed to death in Piedmont Park. The two had gone for a late-night walk in the park, near their Midtown home. But when they didn’t return, Janness’ longtime girlfriend used a cellphone tracking app to find her and the dog. Emma Clark discovered the body of the dog first, and then Janess, about 100 feet away.

In a social media post shared on a GoFundMe page, Clark thanked those who had reached out following the deaths.

“She was the most intelligent, kind, humble and beautiful person I have ever known,” Clark wrote. “I wanted to spend every second with her. He was the sweetest, most loyal companion. My heart is so very broken, my world will never be the same.”

Join Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Dr. Carlos del Rio and City of Atlanta Police Department Chief Rodney Bryant tomorrow,...

Posted by City of Atlanta Government on Monday, August 2, 2021

Although one security camera in the area captured an image of Janness in a crosswalk near the park, Clark’s family said other cameras in the area were not working.

Sunday evening, dozens gathered in Piedmont Park for a candlelight vigil to honor Janness.

In addition to Atlanta police, numerous other metro-area law enforcement agencies plan to participate in the National Night Out event.

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