He was a Navy vet, the father of two children — including a six-month-old baby girl named Carmen — and the part owner of a men’s clothing store on Shorter Avenue.
And Ernest Carl Peeler was murdered early on a Wednesday for the $210 in his cash register.
On Wednesday, April 20, 1977, police found the 28-year-old man inside the Men’s Den lying on the bathroom floor after being called by a customer who noticed a trail of blood leading from the front counter.
The robber had shot Peeler twice in the head and once in the chest with a .22 caliber firearm, mortally wounding him, then dragged him across the floor into a restroom and shut the door.
Detectives worked to establish an exact time for the crime. A seamstress left the store at 9:45 a.m. leaving Peeler alone in the building. His body was discovered at 10:52 a.m.
A car, parked at the store shortly before the robbery, was identified as a 1963 blue Chevrolet, damaged around the right fender and driven by a 5’8” and 180 pound middle-aged man wearing a sport shirt and a felt hat.
Click to read the 1977 news report Storeowner killed for his keys
A Jan. 16, 1972, article in the Rome News-Tribune described the Shmukler family’s flight from a war- torn Russia to freedom in the United States.
The Russian immigrant, whose father had been captured by Germans, came to America as a child and thrived, eventually opening his own business.
But on the morning of Feb. 25, 1974, Josh Shmukler’s prosperity was cut short.
Employees at his Kwick Kurb convenience store on Dean Avenue called police, saying the store had been burglarized and the door had been left open.
Police went to Shmukler’s LaPorte Street home and found the 60-year-old sitting in the living room unresponsive and severely beaten.
Once inside they saw Shmukler, who they at first took to be dead, raise his right arm. He was taken to the hospital but died several hours later.
A burglar, apparently the same one that had entered the store, had come into Shmukler’s house though an unlocked bathroom window and severely beat the man with a weapon.
The burglar then ransacked the house and left, taking along keys to the convenience store.
Click to read the 1974 news report ‘Friendly’ man beaten to death
Neighbors described 65-year-old Clarence Bailey as “friendly” and “extremely organized.”
He owned B&B Sales on Maple Street and did painting and carpentry for a local real estate company. In fact, his neighbors on North McLin Street said they often saw him working on the front porch of his yellow-framed home “sawing and hammering” and that he sold some of his wares at local flea markets.
Bailey hadn’t been seen for many days before and on the morning of July 19, 1990. A co-worker grew suspicious when he saw a rolled-up newspaper on the front porch of the home.
Bailey was found lying face down in his kitchen clutching a toolbox handle with a glass bottle under him. His house was ransacked and he had been hit at least five times with a claw hammer and stabbed with a knife during an apparent robbery.
There was a strong suspect in the case, but as with the others, not enough evidence to make an arrest.
Click to read the 1990 news report
Those with information regarding these reported cases can contact Capt. Terry Autry at 706-238-5121.
The rest of the series:
Sunday - Suspects but not enough evidence Monday - Worst fears realized
Wednesday - Spider Webb Drive
Thursday - Convenience store killings
Friday - Almost enough
Saturday - “Pressuring the wrong man”
Sunday - Family history