Convicted murderer charged in another death in decades-old cold case

A convicted murderer has been charged with another death after being linked to a 40 year-old cold case by a Georgia grand jury.

Law & Crime reports that the indictment was announced Thursday for Marcellus McCluster, now 64, for the murder of Rene Dawn Blackmore, a then-20-year-old US Army private at Fort Benning.

Ms Blackmore “disappeared upon leaving her barracks on the way to Columbus, Georgia, on the night of April 29, 1982,” according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

“Almost a month later, her wallet and sweater were found on a roadside near Cusseta, Georgia,” the agency said.

Almost two months later, on 28 June, Ms Blackmore’s remains were found near a “logging road a few miles further south in Chattahoochee County.”

The GBI determined that the Ms Blackmore was killed by “a shotgun blast.”

McCluster was identified as a potential suspect within a year of the murder by the GBI and US Army investigators, but the state investigative agency said the “original investigation eventually stalled.”

In 2020, a cold case unit was assembled and found evidence to link McCluster to the killing. He has since been charged with one count of malice murder and four counts of felony murder. He will be rooted on 25 April.

Mc Cluster is currently serving a life sentence for another “unrelated” 1983 murder conviction from Stewart County.

During a press conference announcing the indictment, GBI Director Vic Reynolds said he was “extremely proud” of the cold case unit’s work, which included some retired agents.

Georgia’s District Attorney Kimberly Schwartz explained during the press conference that there is no statute of limitations on murder investigations.

“That’s because, out of all the crimes on all the books, this is the one crime that takes form the victim that most fundamental right that we all have — which is the right to live out the rest of our lives that we’ve been given,” Ms Schwartz said. “We don’t know what René Blackmore’s life would have looked like. We know that she did not get to celebrate her 21st birthday. But we can’t know what accomplishments she might have celebrated. We know she would have been 59 years old if she could have been with us today, but we don’t know who she might have loved, what relationships she might have built, what dreams she might have realized — all of those things got extinguished from a blast from a cheap shotgun about two miles from the middle of nowhere down in south Chattahoochee County 40 years ago.”

She said there was “no expiration date on that kind of evil.”

Ms Blackmore’s mother, Donna Reitman released a statement following the announcement. She said that “even after 40 years, I don’t feel emotionally able to answer media questions” but said she had prepared comments to offer.

“Rene’ did not live to see her 21st birthday, which would have been May 5th. She was killed on April 29th, and this year marks the 40th anniversary of her death. Rene’ was a focused young woman; not always serious – she loved laughing and having fun with friends.When she was 12, one of her friends was killed by a drunk driver, which prompted her to write her own will.In it, she expressed the desire for her ashes to be scattered in the nearest woods , because she was very much an outdoor girl.She loved hiking and camping and hunting, and just looking at a star filled sky.She felt she had found her niche in her high school ROTC program, and by her senior year, commanded the unit .”

“I have lived these 40 years always feeling the pain her absence causes, and believing no one outside of her family and friends even cared. It is with a grateful heart that on March 28th, 2022, this belief was shown to be untrue. These detectives of GBI Cold Case unit, had spent the past 18 months working to solve her case, because they, too, cared, and believed Rene’ deserved justice.”

“Nothing can give Rene’ back to me, but I do find solace in learning these men cared enough to seek out that justice.”

She also thanked the GBI’s Cold Case Unit for working to uncover her daughter’s killer.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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