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Inmate Wanted In Sheriff’s Death Is Captured At Mother’s Home

April 12, 1985

RICHLAND, Ga. (AP) _ A jail inmate accused of lifting a sheriff’s gun from the front seat of his patrol car and shooting him to death was seized at his mother’s home Friday after an all-night manhunt.

Authorities said Jerome Thomas, 19, was still handcuffed and wearing jail clothing when they found him asleep in a bed. More than 100 officers had searched three counties for him using bloodhounds and an airplane.

Thomas, who already faces one murder charge, was taken to Sumter County jail in nearby Americus to await arraignment on charges of slaying Webster County Sheriff George Edward Goare, 47, on Thursday.

Authorities believe the handcuffed Thomas, sitting in the back seat of Goare’s car, lifted the sheriff’s .357 magnum revolver from the front seat and shot him, said Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Jim Covington.

″If (Goare) was not wearing his weapon, he would usually place it in the front seat,″ he said.

Goare, described as a large man who felt secure in his job, seldom carried a gun and did not have a protective screen between the front and back seats of his patrol car, associates said.

″Last night was the first time I’d ever seen George Edward carry a gun,″ said Richland police chief Jim McKee. ″We were all kidding him about it too, because he had his .357 loaded with .38 shells and old cartridges.″

Goare was killed after saying he was taking Thomas to find a murder weapon in a case for which he was being held in the Webster County jail. He had just undergone a lie-detector test in the case.

Authorities said the sheriff was shot twice in the chest and once in the shoulder.

Thomas was being held by Goare on charges of killing Morris Moses, a 74- year-old Richland man. McKee said he was being held in Goare’s jail in Webster County, instead of the Stewart County jail in Richland, because it was more secure.

Goare, the first Georgia sheriff to be killed in the line of duty since 1975, is survived by his wife, Sandra, and 15-year-old twin sons, Mike and Mitch.

″He kind of thought he was invincible. He was so well-liked, so loved. He just didn’t think anybody would harm him,″ said Goare’s brother-in-law, Bill Minick.

″He was an Andy Griffith,″ said Butch Potter, a local game warden.

Sumter County Sheriff Randy Howard said Thomas was taken to a hospital briefly for treatment of a wound on his ankle.

″He says it was a gunshot wound apparently inflicted in the tussle with the sheriff,″ Howard said.