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Eight arrested in illegal gambling raid


Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese confirmed two more people have been arrested in a recent illegal gambling case that involved seven businesses in Byron and one in Roberta.

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Deese said Pankajkumar Patel and Gloria Holmes were booked after turning themselves in Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, six other business owners and employees were scheduled in court Thursday.

Investigators said they found the businesses running illegal gambling operations.

Around 40 people who were either employees or family members of the defendants filled the courtroom.

Worshipers pray for capture of Fort Valley rapist


People in Fort Valley united Thursday evening for a special worship service in the wake of recent crimes.

Over the past month, we've reported about the various rapes and attempted rapes in the city.

So far three women reported they've been raped. Four more said they struggled with a man that tried to rape them.

The pews at Greater Cathedral of Praise were full of students and members of the community who said they're turning to their faith in hopes of bringing justice and peace.

"God has not left Fort Valley. We're here. We're staying and we're taking the proper action. It's just about taking back our city and letting the criminals and people who have just been hurting God's people know that we're not afraid, we're not alone," said Fort Valley State student Tamarah Richardson.

Senior Pastor Timothy Deas says despite the crime, they're not hiding in fear.

Crimestoppers reward offered for Fort Valley rapist arrest


The Peach County Sexual Assault Task Force plans to offer a reward for information on the suspect in a string of rapes and break-ins in Fort Valley.

The task force made up of the Peach County Sheriff's Office, Fort Valley police, Fort Valley State police, and the GBI is holding a news conference Monday at 2 p.m. at the Macon Regional Crimestoppers Office.

In early April, five homes were broken into, two women were raped, and three struggled with a suspect before he took off. Last week, there was one attempted rape, one rape, and five break-ins all within three days.

FVSU: Women can move onto campus due to rape cases


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Fort Valley State University says it's opening its campus housing to female students who live off campus for the rest of the school year, due to a recent string of rapes and break-ins.

That's according to university spokeswoman Pamela Berry Johnson.
She said the housing is free for women who don't feel safe off campus.

The school's graduation is tomorrow and other students are scheduled to leave campus May 11.

Fort Valley State University's Student Government Association created a safety app.

It alerts up to 6 people in the case of an emergency.

Solving the Fort Valley rapes and break-ins


With a string of break-ins and rapes in Fort Valley, 13WMAZ wanted to learn more about the profile of a rapist and find out the likelihood that the recent rash of break-ins and rapes in Fort Valley were all committed by the same person.

Gary Rothwell is a former special agent in charge with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Rothwell says it is unusual to have multiple rapes, especially in a town Fort Valley's size.

"Serial offenders are profiled often in the news, but their actual occurrence is rather rare. When we see something in a small community like this, it becomes much more evident and easier to catch on that there's a serial offender than perhaps in a larger jurisdiction," he said.

Rothwell says most sexual offenders are young as the Fort Valley rapist is thought to be, but older rapists are not unheard of.

Fort Valley residents react to break-ins, rapes


After days of break-ins, a rape, and an attempted rape, many people in Fort Valley say they're afraid.

A Fort Valley State spokeswoman said students are continuing to receive alerts through email and text message.

Fort Valley Police Chief Lawrence Spurgeon says his department has been updating their Facebook page with alerts.

However, after incidents reported on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday mornings, the first posts by his department happened Tuesday afternoon.

When asked if she thought law enforcement was doing enough to notify residents, Tia Ackols said officers could do more.

New rape, attempted rape, break-ins reported in Fort Valley


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Law enforcement in Fort Valley is investigating a new rape case, one attempted rape and five other break-ins, all reported in the past three days.

That comes after a string of reported rapes and break-ins in the city earlier this month.

In the latest case, Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said a Fort Valley State University student said she was raped by an intruder around 1 a.m. in her home on Spencer Street.

Five other people reported break-ins between 3 and 5 a.m. Monday, Deese said. No rapes or attempted rapes were reported in those cases, he said.