More than nine months ago in the early morning hours of March 19, a man fully disguised in black entered the Macon Highway RaceTrac and shot 23-year-old clerk Elijah James Wood, who died on the scene. 

The suspect walked with a distinctive gait, and many citizens at the time questioned the perpetrator’s gender. Weeks later, the Oconee Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the shooter was a man in his late teens to early 30s who is 5-foot-10-inches to 6-feet tall. The suspect is light skinned African American, Hispanic, Indian or biracial, according to law enforcement.

The murder appeared to be a botched armed robbery. After shooting Wood, the suspect left the store with the murder weapon. 

When he was killed, Wood was one week short of his 24th birthday. He worked at several Watkinsville restaurants, including Dairy Queen, Dominick’s, Rachel’s Southern Style Restaurant and Chops & Hops, before becoming a clerk at RaceTrac.  

“Elijah was a kind person who enjoyed meeting new people, spending time with his family and was a devout Christian,” said Oconee Sheriff James Hale. “He loved spreading God’s word.”

Hale said the case is very much active. If anyone has information about the murder, contact the Oconee Sheriff’s Office at (706) 769-3945 or visit WhoKilledElijah.com.

During the first half of 2021, the murderers who shot and killed 19-year-old Joey Jackson on July 16, 2019 were brought to justice.

Akhemu Dunston, Dallas McCabe and Ryan O’Neal were all sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years. Dunston and McCabe were tried separately, as O’Neal was the sole defendant who pulled the trigger. 

On the night of the murder, a Pontiac G8 pulled up at the corner of Whippoorwill Road and Cumberland Drive for the purpose of a drug deal involving the victim. From the passenger seat, Dunston stole Jackson’s phone. In a frantic moment, Jackson jumped on the side of the car, cradling the window as he tried to get his phone back. The driver, McCabe, accelerated, and as Jackson was being dragged by the car, O’Neal pulled out a 9 mm handgun and shot him.

Because of the loss of blood and a head injury, it took Jackson two hours to make it 100 yards to his grandparent’s home. His grandparents called 911, and Jackson died in a hospital the next day.

“The act of one is the act of them all” prosecutor Sheila Ross said in her closing statements. “You can’t get away with murder just by going to kill someone with a bunch of your friends and then blame each other for it. … After Joey Jackson is shot, they leave together. They leave him there to die.”

For more on this story, see the Dec. 30 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website. 

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