x
Breaking News
More () »

Atlanta's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Atlanta, Georgia | 11alive.com

3 charged with murder in case of sisters found dead under Rome, Georgia bridge

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation made the announcement, Thursday afternoon.

ROME, Ga. — Three people have been charged with murder in the deaths of two sisters whose bodies were found under a Rome, Georgia bridge in mid May. 

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation made the announcement Thursday afternoon.

Desmond Lavonta Brown, 28, Devin Lawshawn Watts, 36, and Christopher Leedarius Pullen, 23, have all been charged with felony murder counts - along with several other charges - in the deaths of Vanita Richardson and Truvenia Clarece Campbell.

The bodies of the two women, ages 19 and 31, were found on the banks of the Etowah River on May 13 as a crew from the Georgia Department of Transportation was working. 

GONE COLD: The Dumping Grounds: A trail of bodies hidden in plain sight

The GBI previously said that the pair were found with bags on their heads and it appeared that the bodies of Richardson and Campbell had "obviously" been dropped from the bridge. A preliminary autopsy ruled the women's deaths were homicides.

Credit: Provided
Vanita Richardson

About a week later, Brown and Watts were arrested in connection to the case on charges of obstruction, theft and possession of a firearm, but they were not charged with murder. 

Credit: Floyd County Sheriff's Office
Devin Watts, left, and Desmond Brown

After the discovery of their bodies, investigators focused on trying to build a timeline of their final moments - and trying to find the car belonging to Richardson, which they were last seen in before they disappeared. 

The search ultimately led investigators to find it in the city of South Fulton, more than an hour away from Rome. The car, a gold-colored 1997 Toyota Corolla, was taken back to Rome for processing of evidence. 

Further investigation, which involved help from several agencies, including the Rome Police Department, Floyd County Police Department and sheriff's office, Cartersville Bartow County Drug Task Force, FBI, U.S. Marshall Service, Georgia State Patrol, Union City Police, Atlanta Police Department, Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, Rockmart Police Department and the Polk County Police Department - led them to the murder charges:

Desmond Lavonta Brown

  • Malice Murder - 2 counts
  • Felony Murder - 2 counts
  • Aggravated Battery - 2 counts 
  • Aggravated Assault - 2 counts 
  • Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Crime
  • Possession of a Firearm by First Offender Probationer
  • Theft by Taking
  • Tampering with Evidence - 3 counts
  • False Statements and Writings 
  • Abandonment of a Dead Body - 2 counts

Devin Lashawn Watts

  • Malice Murder - 2 counts
  • Felony Murder - 2 counts 
  • Aggravated Battery - 2 counts
  •  Aggravated Assault - 2 counts
  • Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Crime
  • Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon
  • Theft by Taking 
  • Tampering with Evidence - 3 counts
  • False Statements and Writings
  • Abandonment of a Dead Body - 2 counts

Christopher Leedarius Pullen

  • Felony Murder - 2 counts
  • Aggravated Battery - 2 counts
  • Aggravated Assault - 2 counts
  • Abandonment of Dead Body - 2 counts
  • Tampering with Evidence - 3 counts
  • Theft by Taking
  • False Statements and Writings

All three suspects are in custody at the Floyd County Jail.

Credit: Floyd County Sheriff's Office
From L-R, Desmond Brown, Devin Watts, Christopher Pullen

During a virtual press conference announcing the arrests, Rome Police Chief Chief Downer-McKinney said she was grateful for all the help the department had to bring this case to a close. 

"This has been a hideous crime in our city," she said. "It has affected many people and I am just so thankful that we had the cooperation and the working relationship that we had with GBI to bring this to a close." 

"It took a team ... I am just so appreciative that we are here this day to say that we are done," she said.

RELATED: 

Stepsisters remembered for loving personalities as community grapples with their troubling deaths

Disturbing details emerge as investigators try to piece final moments of stepsisters found dead under bridge