FULTON COUNTY, Ga. – It appears justice is being served for a woman who was raped and murdered while moving in Atlanta 23 years ago.
On March 1, 2000, Edna Mae Whitt reportedly asked four men to help her relocate from Richardson Street to McDaniel Street.
Juanita Sturnes, a friend of Whitt’s who also agreed to help, said she came over the very next day and found her window shattered.
Whitt was found dead with multiple injuries to her head, signs of sexual assault, a broken wrist and torn fingernails. The medical examiner determined these were indicators of a physical altercation. The cause of death: blunt force trauma to the skull.
Whitt’s case was cold until 2011, when Atlanta Det. Vincent Velazquez used DNA analysis to rule out three of the male movers.
In 2014, the fourth mover, identified as Vernon Spear, was arrested on gun charges. As a result, his DNA was added to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). It pinged as a match with the DNA found in the sexual assault kit performed during Whitt’s autopsy. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed the findings.
On Nov. 17, 2023 a Fulton County jury found now 64-year-old Spear guilty on every charge he faced, including felony murder and rape. They deliberated for less than an hour.
“This conviction was the result of relentless investigation and skillful prosecution, and underscores the crucial role DNA testing plays in solving sexual assault crimes,” said District Attorney Fani Willis. “After enduring a 23-year wait, Ms. Edna Mae Whitt’s family can finally find a sense of closure.”
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