Missing persons report turns into homicide investigation

Macon County Sheriff Dept. photo by Vickie Carpenter

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

Derek McCrackin
Jessica Smith
Lenore Wilson 

Derek McCrackin, Jessica Smith, and Christopher Shields have been arrested and are in custody in Rabun County, Georgia awaiting extradition to Macon County in connection to a homicide investigation launched on Friday, May 20.

A Macon County woman has also been formally charged with two counts of felony kidnapping.  Lenore “Lenoka” Wilson of Otto was arrested Tuesday in connection to the homicide of the individual reported missing on Friday, May 20. Bond for Wilson has been set at $200,000 and she remains in the Macon County Detention Center.

A Missing Person report was filed on Friday with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) by a family member who had not heard from his sister for several weeks which prompted an investigation. Detectives with the MCSO worked with the family member and the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office attempting to locate her and other individuals with whom she was known to associate.  Throughout the day, MCSO detectives also communicated with other law enforcement agencies attempting to locate anyone who had seen or been with the missing person. The investigation eventually led detectives to two specific areas of Macon County.

“Based on credible information, two locations were considered to be possible crime scenes and meticulous searches would be conducted by our team,” said Sheriff Robert Holland. “The first crime scene was a location where the missing person was last seen alive and the second was where the missing person may have been currently located.”

Both scenes were secured by deputies and additional assistance by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) was requested.  By late Friday evening, MCSO detectives along with assistance from the SBI and the District Attorney’s Office executed search warrants at the two locations. Members of the Otto Fire Department and the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office also provided substantial assistance. Following the execution of search warrants in the two locations, human remains and other evidence were collected by MCSO detectives and the SBI agents.

During the course of the investigation, Christopher Shields of Otto, was identified by detectives as a person of interest and was located, interviewed and released as the investigation continued. Additional interviews were conducted and it was not until later in the day that Shields would become a prime suspect in the  investigation. Following a field interview with Shields, Rabun County Sheriff’s Office detained him during a traffic stop where he was the passenger in a vehicle entering into Rabun County. This traffic stop was a collaborative effort by detectives between Macon and Rabun County sheriff’s offices.

“Investigators continue to gather evidence and conduct additional interviews,” stated Sheriff Holland. “We are no longer treating this investigation as a Missing Person case.  We have recovered human remains and we believe these remains will eventually be identified as our original missing person.  … Positive identification and cause of death may take some time but I am confident detectives will find these answers and the answers to many more questions.”

Shields was charged with kidnapping, with additional charges expected pending positive identification and the autopsy results.

Felony warrants for desecration of a corpse were issued for two other suspects, McCrackin and Smith, on Monday. McCrackin was apprehended in Rabun County on Monday and Smith turned herself in a short time later.

“Thanks to tips from citizens from both Macon County and Rabun County, we can confirm both suspects Smith and McCrackin are now in custody for charges related to the ongoing Macon County homicide investigation,” said Sheriff Holland. “As part of our investigation, we are continuing to follow up with any and all information including attempting to locate other individuals who may have knowledge about the victim in this case. We have information that leads us to believe there are individuals who saw the victim prior to her death with suspect Chris Shields and also after her death. Detectives from both Macon County and Rabun County Sheriff’s Offices have worked tirelessly on this investigation since the case was initiated.”

Sheriff Holland concludes, “We are not playing games and now is the time to come forward.”