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Police searching rivers for body of Austell student

10:51 PM, May 10, 2013   |    comments
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HIRAM, Ga. -- A Hawkinsville teenager is charged with the murder of 19-year-old Jmaal Keyes, the Middle Georgia State College student from Hiram who went missing from the MGSC Cochran campus on April 25.

RELATED | Austell student missing from MGSC campus

Authorities have charged 17-year-old Robert Kane Rolison, who was described as a dual-enrolled high school/Middle Georgia State student, was arrested Thursday night and is being held in the Bleckley County Jail.

Keyes, a freshman, was last seen on April 25. Investigators are still searching for his body.

At Hiram High School, where Keyes was a member of the Jr. ROTC, former classmates reacted with shock.

"He was sweet, the type of guy who always wanted to make people laugh," said Brittany Venable. "A lot of people were crying this morning. There's been a lot of posts on Instagram where people have been praying for his family.

Todd Lowery of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations says law enforcement officers are searching for the victim's remains along the Ocmulgee River in Bleckley and Pulaski counties. Boats and helicopters are being used in the hunt.

As for leads on where the Keyes' body may be, Lowery said, "We've gotten several pieces of information that sent us in different directions in terms of where the body might be. We're just trying to cover all our bases."

Douglas said Keyes and Rolison apparently knew each other as campus classmates, but their relationship beyond that is unclear.

Campus Police Chief Shawn Douglas said investigators did not find any calls between the two on their cell phones.

Douglas said they're still investigating the case and have "a long road ahead." 

On Tuesday, a group of about 20 people from Keyes' family's Austell church searched the campus and surrounding neighborhoods for the missing teen.

Pastor Wilbur Purvis of Destiny World Church said members were with the teen's mother when authorities called with the bad news.

"Her faith is still intact," said Purvis. "She was adamant when she spoke to the children about not being bitter, not being angry."

According to the school's statement, MGSC Interim President John Black said late Thursday:

"We are absolutely devastated by this news. There just are no words to describe how deeply hurt we are and how terrible we feel for Jmaal's family. I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to everyone in his family, and everyone who knew Jmaal. We ask everyone in the Middle Georgia community to keep this family in their thoughts and prayers in the days and weeks to come. We will cooperate in every way to help law enforcement authorities complete their investigation."

 

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