Murder of Detective Samuel Guy went cold for 24 years: On the Case with Paula Zahn

Detective Samuel Milton Guy in uniform
Detective Samuel Milton Guy had served on the police force for 19 years before he was murdered in the line of duty. Pic credit: Atlanta Police Dept.

Detective Samuel Milton Guy was shot and killed while moonlighting at a hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 7, 1975.  He confronted two men robbing the hotel’s cash register; they shot him twice and escaped with nearly 300 dollars. Shot in the thigh and shoulder, he died from a severed artery.

The police cast a wide dragnet, rounding up scores of potential suspects and witnesses, but despite the best efforts of Atlanta’s finest, which included Guy’s son, the case lay cold for 24 years.

However, the case was blown wide open in 1999 with the arrest of two suspects Terry Robert Jackson and Abner Wilkinson. Jackson and Wilkinson, now in their 60s, had long records of stabbings, shootings, robberies, drugs, and scams.

Wilkinson’s wife, Myrtle, had approached cops in 1998 with a confession of her own. She admitted that the man she once loved had told her about the robbery and murder back in 1975.

Myrtle, who was released without charge herself, urged her husband to confess directly to officers, which he did. Wilkinson, now frail and suffering from drug addiction, had no stomach for a fight with investigators and agreed to turn State’s witness. In exchange for a lesser sentence, he fingered Jackson to officers as the triggerman.

This was a situation where the passage of time aided the investigators.

A 2nd witness, Larry Smith, later testified that he had met Jackson on the street on the day of the murder. Jackson had told him about the robbery and said he had to “come down” on the security guard after Wilkinson had frozen.

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Detectives had secured a confession from a Harold Wiley in 1975; however, he was deemed to be mentally incapable, and authorities discounted his confession.

The courts sentenced Jackson to life imprisonment while Wilkinson received 12 years.

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