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SOLVED: Co-worker Charged in Death of Evans Worker

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RUMPA co-worker has been charged in the death of an employee of Springwood Nursery who was found dead from gunshot wounds early Wednesday, authorities said.

Christopher Lamar Rumph, 31, of Hephzibah (pictured), is being held at the Richmond County Jail on charges of murder in the death of 43-year-old Jerry Wayne Whitten. The two worked together, sweeping the parking lots of local businesses using a sweeper truck.

Authorities said Rumph confessed to the shooting during a second interview. His motive was not immediately clear.

Investigators seized a gun after executing a search warrant of his home. He is reportedly a convicted felon and was not supposed to have a gun.

Jerry WhittenWhitten (pictured at right with his wife Lynn) was discovered by co-workers around 6 am in the parking lot of Springwood Nursery located on Cox Road, near Evans High School.

Whitten was pronounced dead at the scene and two gunshot wounds were discovered, one in the neck and one side torso.

Whitten, of Hephzibah, is survived by a wife and children, according to Columbia County Deputy Coroner Harriett Garrison.

Springwood Nursery has a lot-sweeping service, where they clean up lots for different businesses, Garrison said. Whitten and another man work together on those jobs overnight, and they take turns locking up the office and putting the alarm on when they are done around 3 in the morning.

“This morning, it was Mr. Whitten’s turn to lock up the business,” Garrison said. “He went up to office to put alarm on and lock everything up.”

At  6 a.m., the employees arrived and found Whitten’s body outside the office with the door locked and the alarm activated. He had been shot, and he was pronounced dead on the scene.

Garrison said she notified his wife of the death. A message apparently written by the victim’s son was posted on Facebook. It says: “Today Heaven got a new angel but he was taken in one of the cruelest way possible. He was shot twice and for no reason at all. I don’t know why some people let Satan take control over their lives and hurt Christians.”

Cover Issue 825For more crime news, pick up this week’s edition of The Jail Report.

MEMORIAL FUND FOR WHITTEN FAMILY:
From James Cartledge with Springwood Nurseries, Inc.
Dear Community,
My wife, Joy and I are devastated over the sudden and senseless loss of our dear friend and coworker, Jerry Whitten! Jerry has been a loyal and amazing member of the Springwood Nursery family for over 16 years and he will be missed very much!! 
Please keep our work family and especially Jerry’s wife, Lynn, their precious children and loved ones in your prayers during the very difficult days to come! 
Many of you have reached out already, asking for ways to assist the family, as they come to terms with this monumental loss.
We have established a memorial fund in Jerry’s name through Georgia Bank and Trust. You can visit any of their local branches and they would be more than happy to help you. 

We cannot begin to express how much your many, many, calls, messages and texts of concern and support have meant to us! We are a family at Springwood Nursery with many of our employees working here for decades! Jerry was a valued and much loved member of this family and we are all grieving for the Whittens. 
We also are in prayer for the other family involved, through no fault of their own, have also been devastated, because of the actions of just one person. 
Though we are struggling to come to terms with this tragedy, we take great comfort in knowing that Jerry had a deep and personal relationship with Christ and we have no doubt that Jerry is with his loving Savior today! 
Again thank you for the Gracious and loving support of our friends patrons and the entire community! We are extremely humbled and appreciative!

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Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh is an award-winning crime reporter in the Augusta-Aiken area with experience writing for The Augusta Chronicle, The Augusta Press and serving as publisher of The Jail Report. Rickabaugh is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina and has appeared on several crime documentaries on the Investigation Discovery channel.

6 COMMENTS

  1. A convicted felon in possession of a fire arm , nothing new here. Just another LOSER that the tax payers will have to foot the bill to keep his sorry butt comfortable with 3 hots and a cot, medical & dental when he needs it. no doubt he didn’t serve any where near his real sentenced time when some lawyer or judge decided to let this pig go free .I hope that the investigators can track the gun back to the person(s) that he(Rumph) bought the gun from and charge them with murder as well. My condolences to the Whitten family.

  2. “I don’t know why some people let Satan take control over their lives and hurt Christians.” Satan had nothing to do with it, son- the system did. God and Satan (depending on your beliefs) can’t be dragged into excuse the travesties of man…the churches make a fortune convincing sheeple it was either ” God’s will” or the “Devil made him do it.” Just depends on the circumstances. Do your old man proud and lay blame on the real culprit – our judicial system, and work to make a difference instead of a Facebook post.

  3. You said it Jack, thank you. When the courts start to keep these thugs in their rightful place for the full time sentenced then & maybe then we will see a gradual reduction in these type of violent crimes, but as long as the courts/ system keeps breaking down & knuckling under pressure to release animals like this it WILL continue to happen. If the judges , lawyers and others that are responsible for the early release of said pigs where held accountable (really) held accountable I doubt they be be soooo eager to do so ! This person took a life ,now the books must be balanced & he must surrender his life and so it goes, unfortunately .

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