published Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

3 charged in slaying of man found in Georgia woods

Gordon County, Ga., sheriff's investigators say three people are responsible for a dead body found in the woods this week.

Nathan Michael Mahan, Lelion L. Siskey and Nathan Mark Neighbors are being held on charges of robbery and murder. Police say they killed 22-year-old John Wesley Wood Jr. after he went missing on July 24.

Gordon County Chief Deputy Robert Paris said Wood lived in Calhoun for only a couple of weeks. He was planning to move back to his father's house in Arkansas. But on July 28, a family member told the sheriff's office that Wood was missing.

When investigators began asking around, a neighbor said that two strangers showed up at Wood's apartment July 24. The neighbor jotted down the license plate number of the strangers' vehicle.

Another witness told investigators that foul play was involved in Wood's disappearance. Paris would not say Tuesday what foul play it was or how the witness knew about it.

But, according to a news release, the information led investigators to several other people, who led them to Mahan's house. After staking out the house for hours, undercover officers chased Mahan down as he tried to run away and arrested him.

Paris said they used undercover officers because Mahan already had outstanding warrants out against him. They figured he would run away.

"We did not know if he was aware of the existence of that warrant," Paris said. "We often use plainclothes deputies to serve such warrants."

On Sunday, another witness told investigators to check a wooded area near a farm in northwestern Gordon County. There, they found a decomposing body. The sheriff's office is awaiting results from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab to confirm whom they found, though they believe it is Wood.

The sheriff's office later arrested Siskey. Then, on Tuesday afternoon, members of the Floyd County Sheriff's Office arrested Neighbors in Rome, Ga.

Paris would not say how Wood knew the three defendants or why they are suspects in his death.

"This is an ongoing investigation," he said. "We're not finished. Far from it."

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

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