A Georgia man is accused of beating his girlfriend to death and leaving her body outside a cabin that had been set on fire in a remote, wooded area of the state last weekend.
The body of Alecia Grace Stover, 43, was found outside her smoldering log cabin near Alto, Georgia on Saturday.
Her boyfriend, 30-year-old Jeramy Ray Chastain, was arrested during a traffic stop just hours after firefighters made the gruesome discovery and extinguished the blaze.
The Clarksville man was charged on Tuesday with murder, criminal trespass, and giving false statements to law enforcement.
An off-duty firefighter spotted the blaze shortly before 7 a.m. on Saturday, authorities said. Stover’s body was recovered a short time later. Investigators quickly determined the woman’s injuries didn’t appear to be related to the fire and an autopsy later revealed the woman had been bludgeoned to death.
“The blunt force trauma was very obvious,” Lt. Matt Wurtz of the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office told Oxygen.com.
However, no alleged murder weapons were retrieved from the scene.
Stover’s body was found around the side of the property, several feet from the cabin’s entrance, Wurtz said. He added the woman rented the property, located on Yonah Post Road near the tiny town of Alto, which sits on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest.
He described the cabin as “pretty isolated,” noting that the surrounding trees obscured the property from the view of neighboring homes.
“She was outside the residence and the residence was on fire,” he explained. “The house was fully engulfed when we got there. By the time the fire department got the fire out, the roof ended up collapsing. It was a pretty big fire.”
It’s unclear what ignited the blaze, or if it had been intentionally set. Authorities said the state fire marshal is still investigating the fire. Chastain hasn’t been charged with arson in connection to Stover’s death.
Wurtz said investigators are now working to establish a timeline in Stover’s death.
“They’re still putting together a good timeline, trying to figure out when the last time somebody had actually physically seen her or talked to her,” he added.
Stover’s killing, which Wurtz described as "heinous," has stunned the largely rural county, which is about 85 miles northeast of Atlanta.
“It’s a shock to the community when stuff like this happens,” Wurtz said. “We don’t see this stuff a lot.”
The couple had a history of alleged domestic violence. Authorities were called to Stover’s cabin on at least two occasions since January in relation to domestic disputes, Wurtz said. The sheriff’s lieutenant described their relationship as on-again, off-again.
“The hardest thing that I have found for victims of family violence to deal with is leaving the suspect and getting out of the relationship however they can,” Wurtz explained.
He urged other victims of domestic violence, who may be in similar circumstances, to seek help through local emergency shelters or crisis hotlines, and to remove themselves from abusive relationships altogether if possible.
Chastain is being held without bond, according to online jail records. It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.
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