published Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Shooting, police chase leave 2 men dead in Georgia, Alabama

LaFAYETTE, Ga. -- Daniel Chad Marks' family says he came to visit around 9 p.m. Monday. They say he brought a woman with him, and some gifts.

For his sister, Christy, he brought a commemorative gold coin featuring Abraham Lincoln. She remembers him saying something about the truth being important. He also told her he loved her.

But Marks didn't stay long, maybe 45 minutes.

"Long enough to tell my mom he loved her," Christy said Tuesday afternoon. "He was basically telling my mother goodbye."

Soon after Marks and the woman departed, Christy said, law enforcement officers arrived. They searched the house, looking for Marks.

About an hour earlier, according to a Walker County Sheriff's Office news release, officers found Roy Leonard McKeehan, 63, dead at his house at 1039 Old Dalton Road in LaFayette, Ga. Someone had shot him and beat him on the head and neck.

By the end of the night, Marks, too, would be dead. He would flee Walker County, according to the release, show up in Chattooga County and lead officers on a chase through Alabama.

In the end, he would crash into a ditch. Then, police said, Marks, 35, shot himself.

The chase began in Summerville, Ga. After Marks and the woman fled LaFayette, the Walker County Sheriff's Office alerted other departments about what type of car Marks drove.

Around 10:50 p.m., Deputy Corey Fielding and Cpl. Donald Starkey of the Chattooga County Sheriff's Office spotted who they thought might be Marks. They were right. They tried to stop him at the intersection of U.S. Highway 27 and Back Penn Road, but he kept going.

The chase carried across Alabama. But local law enforcement agencies had been alerted that Marks was coming. They were prepared.

Officers set spike strips down on County Road 41 near Ringgold Crossroads. There, about 5 miles deep into Alabama, Marks ran over the trap. He lost control of his car, and it spun into a ditch.

When police got to the car, officers said, they found Marks dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The woman was OK.

The Walker County Sheriff's Office is still investigating the case.

Just last week, Luther McCall said, Roy McKeehan mowed the ditch in his front yard. The two men had lived across Old Dalton Road from one another for about 28 years. They helped each other out here and there -- McKeehan doing some of McCall's yardwork, McCall tinkering with McKeehan's lawn mowers and cars.

"He was as good of a neighbor as I'd ever had," said McCall, 85.

In 2006, according to Walker County court records, Marks was arrested for battery. He was arrested for battery again in 2010, as well as false imprisonment and obstruction of police officers.

But his family maintains that he had been unfairly painted in a poor light. Christy said Marks lived on McKeehan's property, and that the woman with him during the police chase was his girlfriend. Whatever happened Monday night, she believes her brother didn't start as the aggressor.

"I'm sorry for their loss," she said. "I really am. ... He's not a monster."

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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