Twist of fate for suspect in multiple metro Atlanta killings

In 1995, a 15-year-old Stone Mountain High School student admitted he’d been in a gang since the fifth grade, but wanted his life to change.

“I’ve never killed nobody,” Aeman Lovel Presley told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a report about gang activity.

But in an eerie twist of fate, investigators in two metro Atlanta counties have tied Presley, now 34, to three shooting deaths, and it’s possible he has been linked to a fourth slaying. Also startling is how Presley was captured: He tried to board a MARTA train without paying his fare.

Presley of Atlanta was charged with murder in the deaths of two homeless men in Atlanta and a Cobb County hairstylist killed in Decatur, police in both cities said Friday. Police released few clues detailing how Presley was linked to the killings, citing the ongoing investigations. But all three shooting deaths appeared to target innocent victims, and robbery seemed an unlikely motive.

On Nov. 23, Dorian Jenkins was found dead, wrapped in a blanket on the sidewalk at Courtland Street and Ralph McGill Boulevard, according to police. Jenkins had been shot five times. Three days later, a second homeless man was found dead. Tommy Mims, also known as “Can Man,” had been shot seven times as he slept on Whitehall Street, near Northside Drive.

Then, late Dec. 6, a Cobb County hairstylist was shot and killed as she returned to her car, parked in downtown Decatur. Witnesses reported hearing a gunshot before Karen Pearce, 44, of Smyrna, was found dead.

Atlanta police have said there was no known connection between the two homeless men killed. But investigators determined the crimes were linked because of the ammunition, Detective David Quinn said Wednesday.

Both Jenkins and Mims were killed by .45 COLT 200-grain JHP bullets, which haven’t been manufactured since 2010, Quinn said. They were fired either by a Taurus “Judge” or a Smith & Wesson “Governor” — both are .45/.410 revolvers, typically used by target shooters and those wanting to defend their homes, he said.

An autopsy determined Pearce was also shot, but police declined Friday afternoon to release specifics about the type of ammunition used.

No suspects had been publicly identified in any of the three homicides. But on Thursday, Presley was arrested after he allegedly attempted to follow another passenger through the fare gate at the Georgia State MARTA station, Lyle Harris, a spokesman for the transit authority, said in an emailed statement Friday.

Presley resisted arrest and was placed on the ground and handcuffed, Harris said. When Presley was searched, investigators found a loaded revolver and a box of ammunition, Harris said. But specific details on the type of gun and bullets were not released.

MARTA police charged Presley with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, obstruction and fare evasion, and he was taken to the Fulton County Jail. He was also interviewed by Atlanta homicide detectives, who charged him in connection to the shooting deaths of the two homeless men, Sgt. Greg Lyon said Friday afternoon. Decatur police subsequently charged Presley with murder, according to Sgt. Jennifer Ross.

Presley may be charged in connection to a fourth homicide, but no details about that case have been released, Channel 2 Action News reported Friday night.

In a 1995 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Presley said he was attempting to put gang life behind him. He was in the 10th grade at Stone Mountain High School when the story on gang activity in Atlanta was published.

As a fifth-grader in Chicago, Presley said he befriended older boys and joined a gang even though he knew violence wasn’t right. He father didn’t live with him, and he turned to the gang for friendship and protection.

“I’ve never killed nobody, but a few of the guys I hung with might have,” Presley said. “We shot at some people.”

As an adult, Presley has pursued acting, lived for a while in Los Angeles and starred in two short action movies, according to his Facebook and pages.

Presley’s criminal history includes a conviction in Rockdale County for terroristic threat and acts and criminal damage, records showed. He was sentenced to probation.

Presley was denied bond Friday and will remain in the Fulton County jail at least until his next court appearance, scheduled for Dec. 26, according to a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.