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Murder suspect has history of mental illness, violence

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The last time Jack Uselton was seen alive, he was sitting on his daughter's couch, trying to talk to his grandson.

Uselton was trying to talk his grandson through one of his alleged episodes of mental illness, according to Clayton County police, but his grandson, 24-year-old Herbert George Ledford, III, wasn't responding.

Uselton was found the next morning. He had been shot twice, the house was on fire, and Uselton was dead in a pool of blood in the bathroom.

Ledford was arrested Saturday on charges of murder, arson and aggravated assault, in connection with his grandfather's murder. Ledford has a history of bipolar disorder, "severe mental issues" and violence, according to court records.

Ledford apparently had a troubled youth, and in 2007, he was charged with one count of simple battery.

On Friday, Ledford's brother noticed the 24-year-old was "talking to himself and acting depressed." He called his mother, who was vacationing in Florida, according to his statements to police.

Ledford's mother, Melody Kersey, said she was rushing back to Georgia and asked her father, Uselton, and her sister, to look in on Ledford.

Uselton showed up Friday around 7 p.m., at the Hampton house at 11991 Panhandle Road, according to the warrant application filed by Detective David Robinson. Ledford's aunt, who lives nearby, came by to check on Uselton and Ledford and saw the two sitting on the couch.

"Jack Uselton was trying to talk to his grandson, and Herbert Ledford wasn't responding," Robinson wrote in his warrant application.

The aunt came back by later Friday night, she told police, and found Ledford "walking around in nothing but his underpants." He allegedly said he needed to take a shower. She asked for Uselton, but the 24-year-old reportedly refused to let her in, and said his grandfather had gone to the movies, even though the man's car was in the driveway.

The next morning, the aunt returned to the house, let herself in through the garage, noticed Ledford's black, 1997 Chevy Silverado was gone, and smelled gasoline.

Firefighters responded to the scene early Saturday, finding a small fire in the master bedroom in the back of the house, with the door closed. They extinguished the fire, and then opened the door to the bathroom, and found Uselton face down in the shower.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner, Uselton was shot twice: once in the shoulder and once "in the head at close range," according to the warrant for Ledford's arrest.

Ledford returned to the house Saturday morning, while police were investigating the death. He was arrested.

He faces the possibility of a life sentence. Ledford appeared in court on Tuesday morning, to hear the charges against him, but the date of his probable cause hearing has not been set.