Pregnant Woman, 20, Was Killed Along with Parents in 2002 — and Unborn Child's Father Is Arrested

Harriet Sokmensuer
·2-min read

WALB

A Georgia man has been charged in the 2002 triple homicide of a pregnant 20-year-old woman -- who was carrying his unborn baby -- as well as her parents.

On Wednesday, Jason Michael Walker, 47, of Pulaski, was arrested and charged with murder for the 2002 deaths of Thomas, Deborah and Melissa Wideman, according to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation press release obtained by PEOPLE. At the time of her death, Melissa Wideman was 8½ months pregnant.

Walker is also charged with feticide for the death of the unborn baby, who was later determined to be Walker’s biological child.

On March 22, 2002, GBI investigators were requested by the Turner County Sheriff’s Office to assist in the death investigations of Thomas "Tommy Joe," 51, his wife Deborah, 48, and their 20-year-old daughter, Melissa. County authorities had responded to a house fire earlier that day after a truck drove past the family's home and saw it in flames.

WALB Tommy Joe and Deborah Wideman

Inside, first responders discovered the bodies, according to the press release. An autopsy found the victims had been shot prior to the fire.

Despite collecting "numerous interviews" and analyzing evidence collected at the scene, "all leads were exhausted," the press release states. "This initial investigation developed possible suspects in the murders; however, no persons were charged at that time."

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More than a decade later, in Dec. 2014, the case was reassigned to a new GBI case agent and Turner County investigator, who reviewed the original evidence and reinterviewed multiple witnesses.

During that time, a new witness contacted law enforcement and identified a white male leaving the Widemans' home during the time frame in which the murders occurred.

WALB Melissa Wideman

The new information corroborated the evidence obtained during the initial investigation and the follow-up investigation. It was presented to Tifton Judicial Circuit District Attorney Paul Bowden, who determined the case should be presented to a Turner County Grand Jury.

On Dec. 1, a grand jury heard evidence presented by the GBI, and indicted Walker.

In addition to murder, Walker has been charged with aggravated assault and arson in the first degree.

Turner County Jail Jason Walker

Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the Turner County Sheriff’s Office at 229-567-2401, or the Tifton Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 229-386-7900.

Tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS(8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.