Georgia Officials Search for Man who Murdered 5 Family Members


Just 80 miles southwest of Atlanta, the Lee’s lived in a nice suburban home in Lagrange, Georgia with their 16-year-old daughter Bailey Burtron, her 18-year-old friend Liaonna Green, and 33-year-old Christie Lee’s parents, 69-year-old William Burtron and 68-year-old Sheila Burtron.

William Burtron’s employer contacted police when Burtron was a no show at work for several days. Deputies went to the home Saturday evening to check on Burtron, but received no response at the residence. After several attempts they forcibly entered the home. They found William Burtron dead in the kitchen and the rest of the family all dead in upstairs bedrooms.

Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff said, “In law enforcement, you see bad things every day, but I’ve never seen a crime scene like this in my 25 years or so in law enforcement – never a scene with five victims inside a home.”

Deputies say that at least four of the victims had been shot. Autopsies were conducted yesterday to determine the cause of death for all five victims.

Officials believe the murders may have occurred as early as Wednesday and their suspect is 26-year-old Thomas J. Lee, husband and father, who lived in the home with his immediate and extended family. Investigators have been unable to locate him, but they believe he may be driving an olive green Mazda Tribute SUV with Georgia license plates.

The US Marshals Service has been called in to assist. Currently, they are following up on leads that place Lee in Tennessee, Florida, and Ohio. Lee is facing five counts of malice murder.

In a phone interview on Monday, Woodruff said, “If this happened Wednesday night and he left immediately, he’s got five days that he could be anywhere.” He added that investigators “canvassed the entire neighborhood and talked to next door neighbors and people down the street, and nobody saw or heard a thing.”

Lee does not have a prior criminal record and no prior calls for disturbances at the residence. Sgt. Stewart Smith told WSB-TV, “Really no past history of calls to the house and we really don’t know what led up to this.”


Author: Darlene M. Brown