Floyd County police Wednesday charged an Aragon man with killing 80-year-old Vera Elizabeth Nib Hyde at her Silver Creek residence late last year.
Albert Lee Bennett, 83, of 5355 Collard Valley Road, was charged with felony murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, according to Floyd County Jail records. He was held at the jail without bail Wednesday night.
A statement released Wednesday by Bennetts lawyer Jason Lewis described Hyde and Bennett as close friends and maintains Bennetts innocence.
Floyd County police began investigating the death of Hyde on Dec. 4 after a Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy determined she had been shot.
Police first suspected Hyde died in a fall but sent her body to the GBI to determine an official cause of death.
Warrants accuse Bennett of entering Hydes house with a firearm Dec. 1 and shooting her.
Authorities began to focus on Bennett after interviews with Hydes family and friends, said Police Chief Bill Shiflett. Bennett was one of the last people to be seen with Hyde and had gone out to dinner with her on the evening of her murder, he said.
Search warrants were carried out in December in both Floyd and Polk counties in connection with the investigation, and divers were sent into a Polk County pond across from Bennetts house in search of a murder weapon, though no gun was recovered in the water.
Police said during the execution of a Dec. 7 search warrant at Bennetts house they recovered a .22 caliber rifle that eventually led to his arrest.
We took a search warrant for his residence and received the weapon, (then) sent it out for analysis, Shiflett said.
The investigation was delayed while authorities waited on the testing results on the rifle from the GBIs crime lab. Partial results came back last week, police said.
We got preliminaries last Friday, Sgt. Dallas Battle, an investigator with the FCPD, said Wednesday. Then we talked to the firearm expert this morning and got an arrest warrant this afternoon after we conferred with the (District Attorneys) office.
Battle declined to say exactly what the results were that led to the arrest but indicated they implicated Bennett in the crime.
We wouldnt have arrested him if we didnt have positive results, he said.
Bennett was taken into custody at his home at about 5 p.m. The arrest took place without incident, Battle said.
Shiflett and investigators declined to comment about a possible motive in the case.