By Joe Johnson
The Oconee County Sheriff's Office on Friday released a sketch of the person who murdered a Watkinsville RaceTrac clerk five months ago.
The sketch was made by Georgia Bureau of Investigation forensic artist Kelly Lawson, based on the store's surveillance camera images of the incident that occurred early the morning of March 19 at the RaceTrac on U.S. Highway 441 at Hog Mountain Road in what was believed to be an attempted armed robbery.
"The description is based on information gathered in the case thus far," the sheriff's office posted on its Facebook page. "This information is not to be considered as an exact match of the suspect. We urge anyone with credible information on any likely suspect to report that information to law enforcement regardless if the person matches the description or sketch of the suspect. All suspects and leads will be investigated."
Sheriff James Hale remains optimistic that the killer of 23-year-old Elijah Wood will be identified and arrested.
“Obviously this is still an ongoing investigation and will be as long as this killer is still out there,” Hale said told Classic City News. “We will continue to track down all leads and use every resource at our disposal to find Elijah's killer. I personally believe that it's only a matter of time.”
To date, the sheriff said his investigators have conducted numerous additional interviews and been able to eliminate several potential suspects.
“We have secured a number of data search warrants (for electronic devices) and are analyzing this data as it comes in,” Hale said.
The sheriff revealed that his office had received a tip that the killer might be someone with whom Wood had argued prior to being killed.
“Though we did receive a tip that Elijah had been involved in a verbal altercation with a customer we have not been able to confirm the altercation on at least a month’s worth of video,” Hale said.
“We believe robbery was the motive and we have reason to believe so, however cannot go into details as to why,” he added.
The killer is believed to be a light-skinned Black, Hispanic or bi-racial male who is athletically-built and about 5-feet, 10-inches to 6-feet tall. and anywhere in age from his late teens to early 30s.
Investigators have also looked at Wood’s friends and acquaintances to see if anyone might have had a motive to kill him, according to Hale.
A $50,000 reward is being offered in this case. The sheriff's office asks for anyone with information to call (706) 769-3945.