The cases of two brutally murdered women — both found near Spider Webb Drive — remain unsolved years after the deaths.
Elisha Whatley was abducted from her Pennington Avenue home between midnight and 4 a.m. in the early hours of July 15, 1985.
The 25-year-old mother who worked at a local nursing home was found by a passing motorist near the railroad underpass on Spider Webb Drive.
There’s speculation that the young woman was abducted, then raped and choked to death by someone she knew. Years later her family contacted police in an attempt to find the killer.
So far, however, there hasn’t been the break investigators needed to arrest a murderer. There was a suspect in the case, and evidence against that defendant was presented to a grand jury, which ruled there wasn’t enough to proceed.
Looking through the case files, Rome Police Department Capt. Terry Autry said they had quite a bit of evidence. There were several items of circumstantial evidence, but as with so many other unsolved cases — it just wasn’t enough.
Years later, it may have been. Physical evidence, containing what now could have likely been used for DNA testing, was lost in a mix up between Rome and the Atlanta crime lab.
“It’s frustrating,” Autry said.
Eight years later on the railroad tracks just north of where a motorist discovered Whatley, the body of another woman was found.
Rachel Ann Rowe, 58, was beaten to death with a blunt weapon. Then her body was dragged to a location about 150 feet south of the overpass near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Her body was found by a group of Floyd County inmates on a work detail on Dec. 6, 1993. Her boots and watch were found nearby.
Autry said Rowe and several people left a house on Pearl Street the night before, walking toward Green and Gold Boulevard. Police described the area as a shortcut for foot traffic.
“She was only missing for a few hours,” Autry said.
In the weeks following the death, police questioned several suspects but made no arrests. One of the suspects was cleared because he was in jail at the time and another was a jilted lover who’d recently asked Rowe to move in with him.
For those who may have information regarding the Whatley and Rowe cases, RPD Capt. Autry can be contacted at 706-238-5121.
Thursday — Convenience store killings
Friday — Almost enough
Saturday — “Pressuring the wrong man”
Sunday — Family history