Suspects denied bond in deaths of 2 women dropped off Rome bridge

Devin Lashawn Watts (left), Christopher Leedarius Pullen

Credit: Floyd County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Floyd County Sheriff's Office

Two murder suspects were denied bond Thursday in the deaths of two women whose bodies were dumped off a northwest Georgia bridge.

Devin Lashawn Watts, 36, and Christopher Leedarius Pullen, 23, will remain behind bars as they await trial in the killings of 18-year-old Vanita Richardson and 31-year-old Truvenia Campbell, the Rome News-Tribune reported.

Vanita Richardson (left), Truvenia Campbell

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

On May 13, the women’s bodies were found underneath an overpass on the banks of the Etowah River in Rome, authorities said.

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A Georgia Department of Transportation crew made the grisly discovery while performing maintenance on the bridge. Both women had bags tied over their heads when they were found, according to the police report.

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Watts, Pullen and a third suspect, 28-year-old Desmond Lavonta Brown, were formally charged with murder last month after weeks of investigation by the GBI.

Desmond Lavonta Brown

Credit: Floyd County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Floyd County Sheriff's Office

The agency also recently found Richardson’s 1997 Toyota Corolla, which had been missing since the double homicide. Authorities said they found the sedan at an undisclosed location in South Fulton.

Richardson was set to graduate from Armuchee High School in Rome just days after her death, Floyd County Schools confirmed.

Days after the bodies were discovered, the GBI charged Brown and Watts in the investigation. It was Brown’s third arrest within a week, authorities said. While Brown remains in jail, he was not at Thursday’s hearing.

Prosecutors argued the crimes warranted the men stay in jail until trial, the News-Tribune reported.

“The defendant is charged with the horrific murder of two females from this community,” Rome Circuit Assistant District Attorney Emily Johnson said in court.

Prosecutors also argued that Watts and Pullen have prior convictions for aggravated assault and were out on bond when the women were killed.

Johnson said Watts has a violent past that includes a conviction for shooting up a home in 2003 as a retaliatory measure, the News-Tribune reported. He was also out on bond after authorities said he attacked a woman inside a home while children were present.

During the hearing, Watts’ mother told the judge her son would stay out of trouble if he was released. She said he would live with her at her apartment off Chateau Drive in Rome, the newspaper reported.

She also testified the 36-year-old has four children, two of whom are 5 and 7, and that he’s expecting his first grandchild.

The mention of a grandchild appeared to be news to Watts, who participated in the hearing via video conference from the Floyd County Jail, the newspaper reported.

All three suspects remain held without bond, jail records show.

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