By Joe Johnson
The reward in the case of the Watkinsville man who was murdered four months ago while working at a local gas station and convenience store has been doubled to $50,000, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office announced.
The sheriff’s office also released additional details of 23-year-old Elijah Wood’s killer that is hoped might elicit the elusive tip that leads to the the identification and arrest of the killer and any accomplices.
Wood was fatally shot at about 1:30 a.m. May 19, while working the counter at RaceTrac, located on U.S. Highway 441 at Hog Mountain Road.
The suspect, whose race is undetermined, was dressed in all black and wore a hoodie and face mask, which covered all but a small portion of their eyes, and wore yellow and black Battle Sports gloves and was armed with a pistol.
Based on the FBI’s video analysis and measurements taken at the scene, the suspect is believed to be between 5’10” - 6’ tall at the time of the murder. The suspect appears to have an athletic build.
Prior to the murder, a vehicle is seen on video surveillance camera footage traveling south on 441, then turning right onto Hog Mountain Road, passing the Racetrac, and then turning right onto Welbrook Road where it stopped for a period of time before driving away.
Authorities believe the vehicle is connected to the crime.
From the start of the investigation, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has been assisted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, the FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshal's Service District Attorney Office investigators, and numerous local law enforcement agencies.
A certified criminal profiler has reviewed the case, and the case information has been shared through the law enforcement intelligence network in order to ensure all possible avenues and techniques of solving this crime are covered.
Surveillance video has been analyzed by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies with forensic video analysis equipment. Two private-sector companies have also analyzed the surveillance videos.
Thousands of flyers have been distributed in the community.
Hundreds of tips have and continue to come in. All information received is followed up on. To date 43 persons of interest have been investigated, 12 search warrants have been executed, and countless witness, tipster, and field interviews have been conducted.
Oconee Sheriff’s investigators have worked with multiple law enforcement agencies both in Georgia and out of state to determine if the RaceTrac suspect or suspects were involved in similar crimes in their jurisdictions.
“This is a very difficult case, and it is still actively being investigated,” the sheriff’s office said in a Friday afternoon statement. “While some individuals wish for the release of more information, the sheriff’s office must be careful with the information released to the public in order to maintain the case’s integrity. Please rest assured that solving this crime and successfully prosecuting the perpetrator(s) is our highest priority.”
The statement added, “We are very appreciative of all the tips which have come in and continue to come in. We urge anyone with information on this case to do the right thing and come forward. Anyone who provides information which leads to the arrest of the suspect(s) in this case will be eligible for the $50,000 reward.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (706) 769 3945.