Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

April 1, 2014

Murder indictment issued

Man accused of killing, burying grandfather

VALDOSTA — A Lowndes County grand jury handed down indictments in the unusual case of a man who allegedly killed his grandfather, buried him in a back yard, then cashed his Social Security benefit checks for more than two years.

John Hendrell Chambers, 33, was indicted late last week on six charges: malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, concealing the death of another, identity fraud and computer theft, according to the indictment list obtained Monday.

The charges stem from an incident that was uncovered when metro Atlanta area police responded to an attempted suicide in 2011.

On April 15, 2011, a man slit his wrists at his apartment in Clayton County and left a note for his mother that indicated he had knowledge about another person’s death. The man survived the apparent suicide attempt and told police to “go and look in this area,” meaning Valdosta, according to Clayton County police who immediately alerted the Valdosta Police Department.

“We didn’t have an exact address at first, so that required some investigating on our part,” said Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress. “We located a residence where Chambers had lived with his grandfather. Our crime scene unit went to the address and found the remains.”

Police searched the grounds of a vacant house on the 400 block of Church Street, where cadaver dogs eventually located human remains that were then sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for analysis, Childress said.

The identity of the remains was not immediately clear, but after Chambers was released from the hospital he was held in the Clayton County Jail on charges of concealing the death of another and probation violation. Investigators determined the body was that of John Jordan, Chamber’s grandfather. VPD collaborated with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab and the Valdosta State University anthropology department in what Childress called “a very good team effort” that resulted in a quicker-than-usual identification of the body.

“Contrary to what you see on television, DNA tests do not happen quickly,” said Childress. “But we called the DNA unit in Atlanta and spoke with Ted Staples, and they actually had the DNA request back to us in three days, which is remarkable.”

Jordan was beaten to death some time during August 2008 and then buried in the back yard. Chambers lived in the home. Jordan’s Social Security number was used to draw Social security checks, which were deposited into an account, according to the grand jury indictment.

If convicted, Chambers faces life in prison and possibly the death penalty.

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