Overnight search effort in NW Georgia for double murder suspect - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Overnight search effort in NW Georgia for double murder suspect

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Command Center - Varnell/Wednesday night Command Center - Varnell/Wednesday night
Command Center - Varnell/Wednesday night Command Center - Varnell/Wednesday night

VARNELL, WHITFIELD COUNTY (WRCB) - A witness tip launched a renewed and intense manhunt for the man wanted for killing his wife and her grandfather last week in Dalton.

More than 60 officers from a dozen agencies began searching Wednesday afternoon and will continue through at least Thursday morning if necessary. They're all looking for Sonny Neal, who as spotted on Highway 201 in Varnell.

"He apparently was walking, not driving a vehicle at this time," Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood told Channel 3 Eyewitness News.

One of Neal's customers recognized him and called police. The sighting comes six days after Neal's wife, Jessica, and her grandfather, Donald Shedd, were found murdered.

Sheriff Chitwood added, "The deaths that occurred were very violent. We certainly feel that he may still be holding a grudge."

Chitwood believes Neal may have a target.

"There are some family contacts here in the immediate area."

A family friend says he saw Sonny Neal at the family's business the day before the murders.

"That's the reason he's in this area and that's the reason he's headed that way I guess," said Larry Crider.

Crider tells Channel 3 that Sonny was angry with his wife and may be going after a male friend of hers.

"He did worship the ground the walked on, but he was a very jealous man and I guess he had something to be jealous of."

Authorities are protecting the man and his family and will stay in the area overnight. They urge residents to be diligent.

Chitwood said, "Certainly if anyone sees anything suspicious, even a dog barking after midnight, it may be worth checking out."

Larry Crider is keeping his doors locked and hoping his friend stops running.

"I just pray that if he is over there in the woods he's getting his heart right with the Lord right now. I hope he lays down and doesn't move because if he wiggles I know they're going to shoot him," he said.

Crider has already been to one funeral this week and worries it won't be the last.

MORE: Search continues for murder suspect after gruesome murders.

MORE: Family and friends say marriage and money problems were motives.

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