COVINGTON, Ga. - A Tennessee man who helped Covington Police catch a murderer two years ago finally got his reward money. Police couldn't give the man the reward until the case had been settled. The victim's niece said the tipster not only helped solve this case but saved the lives of many others.
The case got a lot of attention at the time. In 2015, a woman was in the parking lot of the Covington Walmart when a man snatched her purse and then ran over her multiple times with a car.
Marsha Johnson was in her car when a man grabs her purse. The two struggled and the man hit and kicked, her knocking her to the ground, before running over her several times
Debra Ray remembers when she got that call two years ago.
"Oh my goodness. Disbelief. We didn't know the severity of it what I had the family come and get me to take me to the hospital. I had no idea what I was going into. Heartbroken," said Ray.
Johnson didn't survive. Police immediately issued a BOLO for the car and gave the media two sketches of a man and woman.
Just a few days later, a man in Tennessee spotted the man.
“He recognized the sketch, also looked at vehicle able to compare it to BOLO then called Manchester,” said Officer Allan Seebaran, Covington Police Department.
Manchester Tennessee Police arrested the man and woman and later identified them as Brandon Smith, of Virginia, and Stephanie Rodriguez, of New Mexico. Police said it turns out the two had committed a multi-state crime spree starting in Virginia, through the Carolinas, and into Florida before coming back up to Georgia then Tennessee.
Both are behind bars and now that they have been sentenced. Covington Police could finally hand over the $5,000 reward that they promised the man two years ago.
"Quite happy, it's Christmastime so he's going to have a good Christmas," said Officer Seebaran. "If I could have tripled it I would have. I feel he saved lives."
Covington Police also provided a Christmas Lunch to the Manchester Police for their help in the arrest of Smith and Rodriguez.