Arrest made in Louisiana for 2016 murder of South Georgia woman

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Local and state authorities from Georgia and deputies from Louisiana have arrested a 49-year-old man for the 2016 murder of a Moultrie woman, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Thursday.

GBI agents, Moultrie Police officers, and deputies from the St. Tammany’s Parish, Louisiana. Sheriff’s Office arrested 49-year-old Michael Heads in his hometown of Slidell, Louisiana for the August 2016 murder of Shada Esther.

Authorities also charged Heads with two counts of felony financial transaction card fraud.

The arrest comes nearly 3 years after Moultrie Police requested the GBI to assist them with their missing person’s investigation.

Esther’s family reported her missing on August 23, 2016, when she did not pick up her children at their school bus stop.

The investigation determined that she was last with her live-in boyfriend, Heads.  According to a GBI news release, Heads left Moultrie and traveled to Atlanta within an hour of Esther’s last contact with anyone else. 

With the assistance of the GBI Region 10 field office in Conyers, Georgia, and the Gwinnett County Police Department, Heads was interviewed and his vehicle was processed for evidence. Heads was not taken into custody at that time.  Leads in the investigation continued to be followed.  Heads later moved to Slidell, Louisiana.

The next development in the case happened in February 2017, when the Banks County Sheriff’s Office requested the GBI Region 11 field office in Athens to process a scene where human remains were found in a wooded area in Banks County, Georgia.  Investigators collected evidence from the scene.

In August 2017, after a review by an anthropologist, investigators noted the remains had similarities to Esther.  After reviewing a GISAC intelligence bulletin about the found remains, the assigned case agent contacted GBI Region 11 Agents to learn more about evidence collected at the scene and specifics of the remains.  This eventually led to the identification. 

This month, In April 2019, DNA analysis confirmed the remains were those of Shada Esther. 

The GBI and Moultrie Police Department secured arrest warrants and traveled to Slidell, Louisiana, to locate and arrest Heads.  According to the news release, the St. Tammany’s Parish Sheriff’s Office provided crucial assistance in locating and arresting Heads.  The St. Tammany’s Parish Sheriff’s Office also obtained search warrants so that additional evidence could be secured. 

The extradition process will begin in Louisiana to return Heads to Georgia to face criminal charges.

This investigation is still active and ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Moultrie Police Department at (229) 985-3131 or the GBI Thomasville Office at (229) 225-4090.