DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. - A Douglasville neighborhood plagued by a series of racially charged notes left on mailboxes since last year can breathe a bit easier after police said they have made an arrest. But those notes weren’t exactly what they seemed and the suspect wasn’t who they claimed to be, investigators said.
It started around Dec. 21 when two homes reported receiving notes described by investigators as being racially motivated. The notes were dropped in the middle of the night in the mailboxes of residents in the Brookmont subdivision.
"The notes threatened to burn their houses down and kill them and said that they didn’t belong in the neighborhood," Detectives Nathan Shumaker
More notes followed for more residents in February and March for homes along Manning Drive. Then it just stopped.
"By mid-March, we really didn’t have anything to go on," Shumaker said.
That’s when residents took their concerns to the local media.
The next six months passed without a note, but that silence ended in September with the final notes being found the first week in September.
Detectives Shumaker and Andre Futch said they were able to determine the letters had similar handwriting, tone, and verbiage with some distinctive letters that were consistent throughout.
Those notes suggested the writer was a white man and a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Police said the notes also included threats such as burning down the residents’ homes or even death.
Police Chief Dr. Gary Sparks said the two detectives were able to crack the case thanks to good old-fashioned dedicated police work with a little help from technology.
"Our investigators had the drive to stick with this case and see it all to the end," Sparks said. "That’s what we’re all about and this reflects the professionalism and integrity of the department".
"They stayed with it and put in a lot of hours. Even when some people went to the media, which could have hampered our investigation, we still stuck with it to the end," the chief added.
Shumaker and Futch went door-to-door, checking doorbell cameras, asking residents if they saw anything, handed out flyers, and got to know the residents.
It was Labor Day when they got a break. Police said they were able to obtain a search warrant based on that evidence. The search turned up evidence tying the case to a suspect.
Terresha Lucas was charged with eight counts of making terroristic threats. But instead of a six-foot-tall white male with a long, red beard who did not live in the neighborhood, investigators said Lucask was a 30-year-old African-American woman who does live there.
Investigators believe Lucas wrote and left those notes in her neighbors’ mailboxes.
Lucas is expected to turn herself into jail this week.
A motive behind the notes was not immediately released.