TIFTON, Ga. (AP) -- A fifth suspect has been charged in connection with the string of armed-robbery attacks that preyed on immigrant Hispanic workers in South Georgia, authorities said.

Thomas Mathis, 22, was charged with murder and armed robbery, said Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead on Saturday.

Mathis, of Moultrie, was captured by the U.S. Marshal's office, Bankhead said. Officials from the U.S. Marshal's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.

Three other Moultrians have already been charged in the attacks. Stacy Bernard Sims, 19, Jamie Underwood, 27, and Jennifer Wilson, 26 -- were ordered held without bond in the six deaths on Wednesday.

Sims and Underwood have also been charged in Colquitt County with aggravated assault, aggravated sodomy, rape, armed robbery, burglary and kidnapping for an attack on a Hispanic couple at a Norman Park trailer park the same day as the Tifton slayings.

In addition, Bankhead said Saturday that Nathaniel Allen, 27, was charged with a parole violation in connection with the case. Allen was described as a "person of interest" in the investigation when he was picked up for the parole violation Oct. 2. Bankhead said Saturday that Allen was from Moultrie, but earlier reports said he was from Adel.

In the past three months, there have been about 20 home invasions targeting Hispanics in the south Georgia counties of Tift, Colquitt and Cook. Bankhead did not have more information on the suspects' alleged role in the armed robberies.

A string of attacks Sept. 30 that left six Mexican men dead in Tift County shocked and horrified the area's large Hispanic community. The men had been killed with guns and baseball bats during robberies at trailer parks in and around Tifton, Ga.

Killed were Mateo Gomez, 54; Filipe Mauricio Esparza, 32; Jose Luis Tias, 20; Mauricio Florindo, age unknown; Guadalupe Sanchez, age unknown, and Armando Perez Martinez, 25.

Four other immigrant workers also were injured in other attacks, authorities said.

Authorities believe Sims and Underwood may have been part of an armed-robbery gang that preyed on immigrant workers, who often carry large sums of cash because they lack documents that some banks require to open accounts.

Representatives from the Mexican Consulate urged local banks Friday to recognize consular cards as sufficient identification needed to open bank accounts instead of Social Security and tax identification numbers, the Tifton Gazette reported.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan has said the slayings were "some of the most vicious the state has ever witnessed."

React to this story:


Trending Video

Recommended for you