ELBERT COUNTY, Ga. - Church members in Elberton gathered at a fire station to remember and pray for one of their own, 86-year-old Otha Perrin.
They gathered at the Elberton fire and rescue department because of the fire chief, who is related to Perrin, is also a deacon at the church.
“It’s a great, full pain because of a person that is such a nice person, a good person that would give you the shirt off your back,” said Chief Donald McCalla.
Perrin’s body was pulled from a farm pond behind an Elberton home on Monday.
The Elbert County Sheriff’s Office charged 19-year-old Savannah Jennings, Perrin’s granddaughter, along with two young men with murder and other charges connected to Perrins death.
Details of Perrin’s murder shocked this community. Investigators said Jennings reported the 86-year-old missing from the home she shared with him on Sunday. The next day investigators said she admitted she lied when her stories conflicted.
Shortly afterward, Perrin’s body was recovered from the pond and a .22 caliber rifle found at the property.
His friends are struggling to understand.
“No there will never be a resolution but we can get maybe some comfort from each other,” said Barbara Burton.
Otha Perrin was a longtime school bus driver in Elberton and the elder deacon at Bethel Grove Baptist, Elberton’s oldest African American Church.
Church members said he loved and nurtured Savannah Jennings like family. The 19-year-old was the biological granddaughter of Perrin’s wife. When she died a few years ago, Jennings remained with Mr. Perrin.
“He treated her well and was very nice to her. Nobody deserves to have been shot in the back of the head and then thrown into a lake. We lost a deacon and not only a deacon but we lost a friend,” said Pastor Dwight Foster with Bethel Grove Baptist Church.
Jennings and the two other suspects remain behind bars without bail.