ATLANTA — State authorities say they have solved a 1974 murder, pinning the crime on a serial killer who was gunned down by police that same year.
Ima Jean Sanders disappeared from Warner Robins on Aug. 1, 1974. Skeletal remains of a young girl were found in April 1976 in a wooded area off Georgia Highway 96 in Peach County, but the remains could not be identified, and the GBI Crime Lab retained them.
Sanders’ remains were identified after her mother and sister in January, 2011 submitted DNA samples to authorities in Texas, where they now live. The Warner Robins Police Department, which originally investigated Sanders’ disappearance, contacted the Peach County Sheriff’s Office and the GBI for help in the investigation.
Authorities now believe serial killer Paul John Knowles killed Sanders. Knowles in 1974, according to the GBI, “went on a multi-state crime spree, committing at least 18 murders.” He was arrested during a road block near McDonough on Nov. 17, 1974, after he kidnapped and murdered a Florida State Trooper and another man in Pulaski County.
A GBI agent shot and killed Knowles on Dec. 18, 1974, as the suspected serial killer tried to flee from custody.