By Joe Johnson
Despite nearly a year of investigation, the person who was charged this week for the murder of a Watkinsville convenience store clerk wasn’t even a suspect until last month when a federal database linked a former University of Georgia football player to the crime, Oconee County Sheriff James Hale said at a Thursday morning press conference.
Hale made the statements a day after he announced that Ahkil Nasir Crumpton had been charged with the murder of Elijah Wood on March 19, 2021, while the victim was working as the night clerk at RaceTrac on Hwy 441 at Hog Mountain Road.
“We had a folder with the names of 51 persons of interest,” Hale said, “and (Crumpton) was never on the radar until Feb. 15,” when the U.S, Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives notified the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office that a shell casing recovered at RaceTrac had been matched to a casing found at the scene of a homicide in Philadelphia.
Hale said the match, made with the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network database led investigators to conclude the same gun was used in both crimes.
Philadelphia investigators advised they suspected Akhil Crumpton was the shooter in their case and OCSO investigators subsequently established a link between Philadelphia and Athens.
Crumpton is from Philadelphia, played football for the University of Georgia in 2017 and 2018, and was a student at UGA until 2021.
“That information led to a more in-depth investigation, which produced evidence to secure an arrest warrant for Crumpton for Wood’s murder,” Hale previously said.
The sheriff said at Thursday’s press conference that Wood, a 23-year-old Watkinsville resident, was killed during “an armed robbery that turned bad,” and that Crumpton was believed to have traveled to his hometown of Philadelphia soon after the incident.
Hale left open the possibility that Crumpton might be prosecuted federally due to the "multi-state, multi-agency set-up, the way this case has gone."
Crumpton remained in custody in Philadelphia awaiting extradition to Georgia, which the sheriff said he expected to happen soon.