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Police: Man confesses to
2007 Clayton County murder
Remains of victim not yet identified

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

According to police, a homeless man has confessed to killing another man -- also believed to have been homeless. Police say the victim's remains may be the same ones found in May, near an on-ramp to Interstate 675 at Ga. Highway 138.

Joseph M. Willard, 43, approached a Henry County Police Detective, who was working an off-duty job at Captain D's on Highway 138 in Stockbridge, Sunday, and said he needed to tell the officer something, according to Captain Richard Gandee of the Clayton County Police Department.

Willard then told the officer he had killed a man in 2007, Gandee said.

"He [Willard] provided specific details about where the body was buried, as well as injuries that could be found on the skeletal remains," said Officer India Smith, a spokesperson for Clayton County Police, in a written statement.

Henry County Police contacted Clayton detectives, and Willard was transported to Clayton County Police headquarters, where he was interviewed, Smith said. He was later taken into custody, charged with murder, and held in the Clayton County Jail, according to Smith.

Willard told police that the slaying took place in October of 2007, according to Gandee. "That's consistent with the way we found the remains," Gandee said.

Gandee said he could not yet release information regarding the motive for the killing, nor the cause of death. However, in June, Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner said: "The bones had knife pricks where he obviously had been stabbed."

Gandee said Willard did not know the full name of the victim. "The victim's first name was Joseph. We're still in the stages of trying to get him identified," said Gandee. "We're pulling information from California and Tennessee," he said.

Gandee said, according to Willard, the victim may have been from California or Tennessee.

In June, Clayton County Police Detective Mike Christian said the remains appeared to be those of a man between 43 and 66 years of age, likely in his 50's, and about 6 feet tall.

"GBI [Georgia Bureau of Investigation] anthropology said it was a white male with mixed features, possibly Native American," said Christian.

He said it appears the victim was homeless. "He was wearing a Southpole 21 shirt with a cross-type pattern on it, dark in color," he said. "He had on a pair of gray shorts."

Christian said the man appeared to have a total of nine teeth -- all bottom teeth, no upper teeth. He said it did not appear the teeth were lost at the time of death. "Holes where the other teeth were, had long since healed over," said Christian.

Anyone with information in the case, is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (404) 577-8477.