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Sheriff: Slain elderly Winder couple likely knew their killer

Willard Ron Hess

Authorities believe identifying the driver of this car is key to finding the killer of a Winder couple last month

By Joe Johnson

An elderly husband and wife who were found dead of gunshot wounds last month in their Winder home likely knew their killer, according to Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith.

Willard Ron Hess, 70, and Dorothy E. Hess, 73 were reported to be dead in their Southridge Road home on May 20 by an adult grandson who lived across the street, according to the sheriff’s office.

“We are investigating a true whodunnit case and we feel (the victims) knew their killer,” Smith said Thursday.

The sheriff said there was no evidence of a burglary and the house was not ransacked.

“It is possible they opened the door for someone they knew,” Smith said.

No one, including the victims’ grandson, had been ruled out as a suspect, he said.

After deputies responded to the Hess’ home on the grandsons’ 911 call, investigators processed both his and the Hess’ houses as crime scenes.

“We have an extensive amount of evidence to sift through,” the sheriff said.

Smith said he thinks the couple was killed the night of May 17, the same day a neighbor's surveillance camera recorded a mysterious black car stopping twice at the couple's home.

“We feel that car is a key piece in solving this case,” Smith said.

Willard Hess reportedly was a published author and an expert on Shakespeare.

Information about Dorothy Hess was not immediately available.

Authorities asked that anyone with information about this case or recognizes the black car to call the Barrow County Sheriff's Department at 770-307-3080.

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