GBI investigators talk about work that led to guilty verdicts in Ahmaud Arbery case

ATLANTA — The world watched as three men were convicted in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

But the case could have turned out very differently had it not been for a team of dedicated detectives from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Channel 2 Action News has the case from the beginning, spending weeks in Glynn County, not only for the trial but to uncover every angle in this investigation.

Now we’re getting an exclusive look behind the investigation that led to the life sentences for the men who killed Arbery.

The GBI inspector on the ground at the time in Glynn County told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne event though the case was months old when the agency got involved, within 72 hours of taking over the investigation they had two suspects under arrest.

“During the course of this investigation one of the most disheartening things was the whispers that we heard primarily from around the community, that we would never be able to secure a conviction in this case,” said GBI inspector Eve Rodgers. “We all used that as motivation. Ultimately the jury which was made up of one African American and 11 Caucasians. They rendered what we all know to be the appropriate verdict, and in the end, they helped us to dispel those whispers that we would never get a conviction in South Georgia.”

Winne spoke exclusively with the 20-agent team that handled the investigation of the killing of Arbery, which led to convictions and life sentences for Greg McMichael, William “Roddie” Bryan and Travis McMichael for felony murder and more, including malice murder against triggerman Travis McMichael.

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“We knew that based on the eyes that would be looking at this case from all over the place, that it would need an all-star team,” GBI director Vic Reynolds said.

“At first it seems like a simple case because, you know, the killing’s on video. However, it was gathering all the information before what led up to it that was the daunting task,” said case agent Richard Dial, the supervisor in the GBI’s Kingsland office.

“Part of my involvement was building a relationship with the family because of the torn relationship the family had already had with law enforcement,” said Cyrus Purdimon, who helps run a drug squad in Metter, Georgia. “I’ve had people Black people, white people just come up to me and thank me for what I was doing while I was in Brunswick.”

“I can’t speak highly enough about that prosecution team,” said Jason Secrist, who helps run the GBI’s Douglas office and who was a key player in the investigation of Roddie Bryan. “The credibility of the GBI showed through during this case. I think it validated what we know from inside the agency, it validated to those outside the agency, that when you call the GBI, that we are an independent investigative agency and that we are not just going to side with local law enforcement or local prosecutors.”

“The stakes were very, very high,” Reynolds said about the case. “I’m so proud of what they did.”

“Personally, I guess this case it really shows you why we do this job -- for me,” Dial said. “This is worth it, worth all the sacrifices that we make personally. And professionally and our families make to do the right thing, to make sure that the facts are there so that justice can be brought.”

“I prayed about it, more than anything my prayer for the most part was that there was a lot of division going on in the country right now and I was hopeful for common sense in this verdict,” Purdimon told Winne.

“I still pray for Ahmaud’s family as well,” Rodgers said. “Every day.”

Rodgers said the team was motivated significantly by getting justice for Arbery and for his parents. She told Winne she’ll never forget the hug his mother gave Dial after the guilty verdicts.

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