Atlanta turns to variable speed limit system to relieve highway congestion
Atlanta ranked as the 11th worst traffic city in North America, according to one study.
September 24th, 2012
02:31 PM ET

Atlanta turns to variable speed limit system to relieve highway congestion

Transportation planners in Atlanta, ranked 11th in North America for worst city traffic, are reaching into their bag of tricks for a way to control driving speeds based on real-time conditions.

The Georgia Department of Transportation will be installing new electronic variable speed limit signs along the northern half of Interstate 285. The speed limits will range between 45 mph and 65 mph, and they will fluctuate depending on traffic volume and weather conditions.

"We have been considering this legislation for about three years," said Georgia DOT Commissioner Keith Golden. "We want to give drivers a speed limit that they'll be more compliant to."

According The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the idea is to reduce stop-and-go driving and discourage frequent lane changes.

The whole system will be a relative easy project to set up, according to Golden. Work on the installation of the electronic signs is set to begin next month, and the system should be up and running by next summer.

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Filed under: Georgia • Wyoming
Police: Stepdad confined teen for years, sent him away on bus
Paul Comer and Sheila M. Comer, both of Dallas, Georgia, have been charged with cruelty to children.
September 21st, 2012
06:56 PM ET

Police: Stepdad confined teen for years, sent him away on bus

A gaunt 18-year-old Georgia man told California police his stepfather had banished him and sent him on a cross-country bus ride after the stepfather had confined him to a room for four years, authorities said.

The confinement allegedly was so thorough, Mitch Comer's two younger sisters living in the same home hadn't seen the teen for the last two years, and he says he hadn't been outdoors in at least that amount of time, Paulding County (Georgia) Sheriff's Cpl. Ashley Henson said.

The teen's stepfather and mother were arrested in Dallas, Georgia, last week after a retired Los Angeles police officer found the teen wandering an L.A. bus station, weighing under 100 pounds at just over 5 feet tall, and looking like he was 12 or 13, the L.A. Police Department said.

Paul M. Comer, 48, and the teen's mother, Sheila M. Comer, 39, both of Dallas, Georgia, were charged last week with cruelty to children relating to alleged abuse during Mitch Comer's minor years, Henson said. Both are being held without opportunity for bail, pending an October 4 hearing.

"The information we have is the neighbors didn't even know there was a boy living in the home," Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan told "CNN Newsroom" on Friday.

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Filed under: Crime • Georgia
July 3rd, 2012
05:31 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Rednecks at play

Self-proclaimed "rednecks" gather across the country to enjoy some fun in the mud and we've captured them on video. Watch as some swim in a mud pit, hurl hubcaps and compete in beer-related contests. One woman states "what makes it so fun is that it's a bunch of rednecks getting along."

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'Redneck Resort' offers fun in the mud

The "Redneck Resort Mud Park" in Tennessee promises a good time for those who don't mind getting dirty. WVLT reports.

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Beer + cigarettes + mud = Redneck Games

Annual Redneck Games are held in East Dublin, Georgia. Mud pit bellyflops and hubcap hurls are among the games played.

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Maine town hosts 'Redneck Olympics'

Hundreds came out for toilet seat horseshoes and pigs feet bobbing in one town's alternative Olympics. WCSH reports.

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Filed under: Georgia • Gotta Watch • Maine • Sports • Swimming • Tennessee • U.S.
Family releases photo of a recovering Aimee Copeland
Necrotizing fasciitis patient Aimee Copeland goes outside Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Georgia, for the first time, accompanied by her parents, Andy and Donna Copeland.
June 26th, 2012
09:24 PM ET

Family releases photo of a recovering Aimee Copeland

Aimee Copeland, the young Georgia woman who has been battling a flesh-destroying bacterial infection, got to go outside Sunday for the first time in seven weeks, her family reported. The family released a photo showing Copeland and her parents on the hospital grounds.

"Aimee has a beauty in this photograph that I think goes beyond words," Andy Copeland, her father, told ABC's "Good Morning America." "It's a beauty of survival, of resilience."

Copeland has lost her hands, one leg and both feet to necrotizing fasciitis, which followed her fall into a creek in a zip-line accident May 1. Nevertheless, Andy Copeland says she feels optimistic and "blessed to be different."

Her father wrote on his blog that being outside Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Georgia, was "the best therapy she has had in weeks."

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Filed under: Georgia • Health
Overheard on CNN.com: Reader 'feeling a bit dirty' for agreeing with KKK on litter pickup
June 11th, 2012
06:36 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Reader 'feeling a bit dirty' for agreeing with KKK on litter pickup

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

You've probably seen those highway adoption signs emblazoned with the names of various local organizations. A North Georgia chapter of the Ku Klux Klan wants to adopt a one-mile stretch of Georgia State Route 515. The group is applying to receive state recognition for cleaning up litter in the Appalachian Mountains near the North Carolina border. The Georgia DOT is considering the matter, as are many of our readers.

KKK chapter wants to adopt stretch of Georgia highway

Some readers said the KKK just might have something there.

Techsupp0rt: "Agreeing with the KKK kinda leaves me feeling a bit dirty. They've got a point. If other racist organizations can do it, they should be able to as well. Treat all racists equally. You do gotta pick up the trash though."

This person would beg to differ.

Clabdurch:
"Dear KKK,
Thank your for your inquiry, but no, you KKKan't have it.
Signed,
The Southerners that are not proud of you."

Some of our readers got ideas.

agentxyz: "At least I'll know where to dump my trash"

Is the move legit? FULL POST

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Filed under: Georgia • Overheard on CNN.com • Race
Boxing champ Paul Williams paralyzed in motorcycle accident, manager says
Paul Williams has held three boxing title belts.
May 29th, 2012
05:53 AM ET

Boxing champ Paul Williams paralyzed in motorcycle accident, manager says

Boxer Paul Williams, known as "The Punisher," has been left paralyzed from the waist down after a traffic accident Sunday in suburban Atlanta, according to news reports.

Williams' manager, George Peterson, told CNN affiliate WRDW in Augusta, Georgia, that the boxer is facing surgery Wednesday to stabilize his spinal column. That surgery will entail putting a wall around his upper spine, according to the report.

Williams is from Aiken, South Carolina, east of Augusta.

He was in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta to attend his brother's wedding on Monday, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

As he rode his motorcycle home from a bachelor party early Sunday, he swerved to a avoid a car and was thrown from the bike more than 60 feet in the air, Peterson told the Daily News.

“He was doing about 75 mph on the motorcycle. When he came down, he came down on his back and when he came down on his back, of course he severed his spinal cord. He’s paralyzed from the waist down. In terms of him walking again... that will never happen,” the Daily News quoted Peterson as saying.

Williams has a career record of 41-2-0, with 27 knockouts, according to the WRDW report. He has held three title belts, twice being the WBO welterweight champ and once as the WBO light middleweight champ.

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Filed under: Boxing • Georgia • South Carolina • Sports
May 17th, 2012
06:27 PM ET

Georgia police hunt man who pointed rifle at school bus

Police in north Georgia say they’re trying to find a man who witnesses say pointed a rifle at a moving school bus this week and apparently left a note at the scene containing school bus numbers.

The incident in Hampton has prompted Clayton County police to start escorting school buses through the Greystone subdivision, and federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined the investigation.

A resident of the subdivision told police that a man was crouched in a backyard of a home in Hampton about 25 miles southeast of Atlanta on Monday morning and pointed a rifle at a moving bus.

“About the time the school bus pulled up to pick up two kids … the guy started aiming the gun," the resident, David Dillard, told CNN affiliate WSB.

Dillard said he yelled at the man, and the man dropped the rifle and ran away. Dillard said his nephew, who was nearby, ran after him.

The gunman fired a pistol at the nephew hitting no one before escaping on foot, Clayton County police Lt. Chris Windley said, citing witness accounts.

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May 11th, 2012
01:46 PM ET

Victim of flesh-eating bacteria is showing ‘fighting spirit,’ dad says

A University of West Georgia graduate student who lost one limb and will probably lose parts of others to flesh-eating bacteria is mouthing words to her family and showing a "fighting spirit," her father said Friday.

Aimee Copeland is fighting for her life at an Augusta hospital after her left leg and part of her abdomen were removed last week. She contracted the infection after injuring her calf in a zip line accident 10 days ago.

"I would say that she has more commands than questions right now," Andy Copeland told "CNN Newsroom," saying his daughter’s breathing tube was repositioned so her parents could read her lips. "'I can’t talk,' was what she said. And we said, 'We know, honey, you've got a tube down your throat.'

"She said, 'Then take it out.' So her fighting spirit is obviously shining through right now.'

Aimee, 24, contracted the bacteria Aeromonas hydrophila  during an outing with friends near the Little Tallapoosa River, about 50 miles west of Atlanta, on May 1, her family has said. She fell when a homemade zip line she was using snapped, and she gashed her left calf.

The family has said she sought medical treatment for the wound and received 22 staples to close it, according to CNN affiliate WSB. But on May 4, after she complained of pain for days, a friend took her to an emergency room, and she was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis and flown to Augusta for surgery. She went into cardiac arrest after being removed from the operating table, but was resuscitated, CNN affiliate WGCL reported.

Her father wrote in an Internet post Thursday that her hands and remaining foot also will have to be amputated soon, because blood vessels there have died as the disease has spread. He said Friday that Aimee doesn’t yet know about these next amputations.

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May 10th, 2012
07:22 AM ET

Student fights flesh-eating bacteria after zip line fall

[Updated at 3:57 p.m. ET] A University of West Georgia graduate psychology student is fighting for her life with flesh-eating bacteria after falling off a homemade zip line and cutting her leg, CNN affiliates WSB report and WXIA report.

Aimee Copeland, 24, fell off a homemade zip line near a friend’s home in Carroll County, Georgia, on May 1. Doctors at a hospital in Augusta were forced to amputate most of her right leg on Friday after the bacteria destroyed her leg muscles and moved into other parts of her body. She stopped breathing and at one point and had to be resuscitated, her father, Andy Copeland, told WSB.

On Thursday, Andy Copeland told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that her hands and her remaining foot also will have to be amputated.

But he said she was showing improvement at a hospital in Augusta and was "extremely responsive, coherent and alert" on Thursday, the AJC reported.

The AJC reported that Copeland contracted Aeromonas hydrophila in the deep gash in her leg after the zip line broke.


Filed under: Georgia • Health
Gotta Watch: Rescues caught on video
A crew working to rescue a man trapped in mud at a construction site almost needed rescuing themselves.
March 27th, 2012
05:27 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Rescues caught on video

An Atlanta Fire rescue crew saves a man from drowning in mud. You "gotta watch" how they pulled him from more than 4 feet of mud near a construction site. In Oregon, see how a team used a rope and pulley system to save a quarter horse from a septic tank. And watch how a Good Samaritan saves a man from drowning in Oregon's Willamette River.

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Man almost buried alive in the mud

An Atlanta Fire Dept. batallion chief explains how crews saved a man from being buried alive in thick mud near a construction site.

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Good Samaritan saves drowning man

A man drowning in Oregon's Willamette River was saved by a good Samaritan.

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Horse rescued from septic tank

Portland firefighters were able to rescue a 34-year-old horse named Roxy after she fell into a septic tank.

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Filed under: Georgia • Gotta Watch • Oregon • U.S. • Uncategorized
March 19th, 2012
11:40 AM ET

Crews search for balloonist who fell from 17,000 feet amid storm

Search-and-rescue teams were conducting an aerial and ground search Monday for a missing hot air balloonist who crashed in Georgia three days earlier.

At least seven helicopters and planes were in the air and more than 100 people were on the ground looking for Ed Ristaino of North Carolina, Ben Hill County Sheriff Bobby McLemore said.

Teams made up of state patrol officers, forestry units, neighboring sheriff's department personnel, and other volunteers were scouring areas east of Fitzgerald in south-central Georgia, where it is believed the balloon basket went down.

The search was not easy, McLemore said.

"It's majority pines out there with underbrush, some hardwood bottoms, really just a lot of vegetation," he said. "It's more woods than anything - we don't have a lot of open areas."

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Filed under: Georgia • U.S.
Delta jetliner rolls off taxiway during test
The Delta 737 rolled off a taxiway early Tuesday morning.
March 13th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Delta jetliner rolls off taxiway during test

A Delta Airlines jetliner veered off a taxiway during maintenance testing at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport early Tuesday, causing significant damage to the aircraft, an airline spokesman said. No one was injured, he said.

"Mechanics testing the engines of a Boeing 737-700 this morning experienced a problem with the plane’s braking system," Delta spokesman Eric Torbenson said.

The plane left a taxiway near 8 Right at the airport, he said, and rolled partially down an embankment.

There were no passengers aboard, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said.

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Filed under: Aviation • Georgia
February 24th, 2012
12:17 PM ET

Disturbances prompt cancellations of some Nike releases

[Updated at 4:13 p.m. ET] Concerns about disturbances among large crowds waiting to buy special-edition Nike shoes tied to this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game prompted stores in several states to cancel the releases, media reports say.

Of particular interest among many would-be shoppers, according to the reports, was the $220 Nike Foamposite One Galaxy, a space-themed, glow-in-the dark shoe that nods to the space legacy of Florida, where this weekend’s game is happening in Orlando.

In Orlando on Thursday night, a Foot Locker House of Hoops store at Florida Mall cancelled a special 11 p.m. opening after police were called to handle a crowd of about 1,200 people, CNN affiliates Bay News 9 and WFTV reported.

The crowd outside the mall was moved across the street before the late-night opening. But at one point, people rushed toward the store, which was to sell the Foamposite One and other All-Star-related releases, the affiliates reported.

“People tried running over the cops. People tried just getting into that line,” witness Youssef Abounouadar told WFTV. “Everyone ran to the door, and it started getting really hectic.”

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Filed under: Basketball • Florida • Georgia • Maryland • NBA • North Carolina • Sports
February 24th, 2012
12:01 PM ET

The latest legislative tool: Satire

For the very serious business of making serious laws for states with legitimately serious problems, there’s an unexpected streak of comedic wackiness running through governmental chambers.

Consider a sample of legislative work since the start of 2012:

Alaska Rep. Kyle Johansen, R-Alaska, proposed the federal government take over New York’s Central Park and make it a development-free wilderness area as a way to blast back at those he says are in the way of drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Wyoming legislators followed up with a bill in support of Alaska's measure.

In Mississippi, Democratic lawmaker Stephen Holland introduced a bill to change the name of the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of America. It's a swipe at Republicans who he says want to push everything having to do with Mexico out of the state.

To get more - ahem - personal, Democratic Oklahoma Sen. Constance Johnson wrote a provision for an anti-abortion bill that said men can ejaculate only into women’s vaginas, lest lives be wasted. Virginia Democrat Janet Howell amended an anti-abortion bill to require rectal exams for men before they could get erectile dysfunction medications.

This week Rep. Yasmin Neal, D-Georgia, tired of an anti-abortion debate she says ignored women’s points of view, introduced a bill that would block men from having vasectomies unless the procedure would prevent death or serious injury.

Nevermind filibusters, lobbyists and legislative majorities; when lawmakers really want the world to know their opinions, they crack a joke, keep a straight face and wait for the tweets to start.

“Irony has a lot of currency these days,” said Jeffrey P. Jones, author of "Entertaining Politics: New Political Television and Civic Culture" and director of Old Dominion University's Institute of Humanities. “It’s kind of a new public language.”

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Filed under: Georgia • Health • Politics
Georgia Democrats propose limitations on vasectomies for men
State Rep. Yasmin Neal's bill comes in response to an abortion-restrictions bill that Georgia legislators are considering.
February 21st, 2012
06:23 PM ET

Georgia Democrats propose limitations on vasectomies for men

As members of Georgia’s House of Representatives debate whether to prohibit abortions for women more than 20 weeks pregnant, House Democrats  introduced their own reproductive rights plan: No more vasectomies that leave "thousands of children ... deprived of birth."

Rep. Yasmin Neal, a Democrat from the Atlanta suburb of Jonesboro, planned on Wednesday to introduce HB 1116, which would prevent men from vasectomies unless needed to avert serious injury or death.

The bill reads: "It is patently unfair that men avoid the rewards of unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly. ... It is the purpose of the General Assembly to assert an invasive state interest in the reproductive habits of men in this state and substitute the will of the government over the will of adult men."

“If we legislate women’s bodies, it’s only fair that we legislate men’s,” said Neal, who said she wanted to write bill that would generate emotion and conversation the way anti-abortion bills do. “There are too many problems in the state. Why are you under the skirts of women? I’m sure there are other places to be."

Personally, Neal said, she has no qualms with vasectomies.

“But even if it were proposed as a serious issue,” she said, “it’s still not my place as a woman to tell a man what to do with his body."

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Filed under: Abortion • Georgia • Health • Politics
Family releases first post-crash pic of pileup victim
A photo given exclusively to CNN shows Lidiane Carmo at a Florida hospital after a wreck killed most of her immediate family.
February 10th, 2012
10:26 AM ET

Family releases first post-crash pic of pileup victim

The family of a Brazilian teenager who was injured in a multivehicle wreck in Florida last month a wreck that killed at least 11 people, including four of her relatives, amid dense fog and smoke from a brush fire has released the first post-crash picture of her exclusively to CNN.

Lidiane Carmo, 15, is progressing at Shands at the University of Florida hospital, where she has been since the January 29 wreck on I-75 outside Gainesville, one of her uncles said.

The case of Lidiane, who has lived in the United States for most of her life, drew widespread attention after church members said she was an illegal immigrant, and they were afraid she could face deportation. But federal officials said last week that she would be allowed to stay in the United States.

Her father, Jose Carmo, was a pastor at International Church of the Restoration in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Lidiane came to the United States from Brazil when she was only 2, another pastor at the church told CNN; the family stayed in the United States after their visas expired, CNN affiliate WSB reported.

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Milwaukee hopes images of dead can heat up cold cases
Police use composites, like this from a 1969 California murder victim, to ID remains, but some jurisdictions are taking it further.
January 4th, 2012
01:56 PM ET

Milwaukee hopes images of dead can heat up cold cases

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office is taking a drastic and admittedly desperate step in its effort to clear cold cases, some stretching back to 1970.

Law enforcement officials have long posted sketches or clay models  - and more recently, digital reconstructions - of unidentified persons in hopes that a friend or loved one might recognize the deceased and help police identify them. Taking its lead from Las Vegas, Milwaukee County is taking it a step further and releasing actual photos of the deceased.

It sounds gruesome - and it is, if you peruse the Milwaukee medical examiner's unidentified persons site - but forensic investigator Michael Simley says that in the 17 cases featured, authorities have run out of options.

"They were born with a name, and they deserve to have that name in death," Simley said. "This is the best way to get that information out there to the public."

Just because bodies are found in Milwaukee County doesn't mean the deceased lived there. They may have been a homeless transient or perhaps a visitor, so Simley wanted to create a database anyone could search.

It's a twist on the U.S. Justice Department's NamUs system, which is a database of unidentified human remains. The database, which contains more than 8,000 cases, is searchable by sex, race, body features, dental information or other characteristics.

There are many systems like NamUs. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, South Carolina Coroner's Association, New York State Police, Texas Department of Public Safety and even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are among the law enforcement entities that post their John and Jane Does online, but they rely on reproductions of the deceased.

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Filed under: Crime • Georgia • Italy • Justice • Nevada • New York • South Carolina • Technology • Texas • U.S. • Wisconsin
December 7th, 2011
01:01 PM ET

Arrest made in Georgia girl's killing

[Updated at 2:59 p.m. ET] Information from the public led to the arrest of a suspect in the sexual assault and slaying of a 7-year-old Georgia girl, police said Wednesday.

Authorities said Brian Brunn, an employee of the apartment complex where victim Jorelys Rivera lived in Canton, Georgia, was arrested Wednesday.

Rivera's body was found earlier this week in a trash bin outside the apartment complex, three days after she was reported missing. Authorities have said that she died of blunt force trauma to the head, was stabbed and had been sexually assaulted.

"(Brunn) was well known in the apartment complex because he was employed there," said Vernon Keenan, head of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. "This investigation will continue on for several months. This is mammoth case. We believe that this horrendous crime was planned and calculated."

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Filed under: Crime • Georgia
December 6th, 2011
12:24 PM ET

7-year-old Georgia girl died of head trauma, stabbing, investigators say

A 7-year-old girl whose body was found in a trash bin outside her Georgia apartment building died of blunt force trauma to the head, was stabbed and had been sexually assaulted, authorities said Tuesday.

The killer probably lives in the apartment complex where the child lived or had ready access to it, said Vernon Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

"We have multiple leads we feel are valuable and we're going to carry those out," he said.

Sixty-five state and federal investigators are trying to piece together the events that led to the killing of Jorelys Rivera at an apartment complex in Canton, about 40 miles north of Atlanta, where the girl was found three days after she went missing.

Keenan said investigators uncovered what they believe is blood in a vacant apartment unit. They do not currently have any suspects in custody, he said.

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Filed under: Crime • Georgia • Missing Children
December 5th, 2011
02:26 PM ET

Georgia police find body of 7-year-old missing girl

Police have found the body of a 7-year-old Georgia girl who went missing more than two days ago, the state's chief law enforcement official said Monday.

Police believe Jorelys Rivera was abducted and killed at her apartment in Canton, about 40 miles north of Atlanta, said Georgia Bureau of Investigations director Vernon Keenan.

"A 7-year-old child was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered," Keenan said.

The girl was last seen Friday near a playground at her apartment. Police initially thought she might have wandered off and began investigating it as a missing-person case. But after more than 48 hours of searching, police said they believed the girl was kidnapped.

Canton police, assisted by the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, expanded the search area Monday and began canvassing for sex offenders living nearby. They are now asking for help to find out who killed the little girl.

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Filed under: Crime • Georgia
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