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The best Howard Sills could remember, there hadn’t been a double homicide in Putnam County since May 1984, 30 years earlier. In minutes, the mood inside the lake house swung from wild intensity to who the hell did this? This, the sheriff told himself, ain’t local talent.
Atlanta Police Lieutenant LeAnne Browning recalls her days as a patrol officer. “Our lieutenants would say, ‘Okay, I want you to look at the beat books so you can know what’s out there on your beat.’ Well, the beat books are like this thick with reports,” she says, holding her hands a couple of feet apart. “And you’d sit there and thumb through it all, and there was no time because they were then kicking you out of the precinct to handle calls.” She pauses before pointing to her computer screen. “That’s the old way of doing things. This—it’s right here.”
I can honestly say that I enjoyed the ten hours I spent mostly listening to him talk, and that I was genuinely moved by much of what he had to say about life, family and (occasionally) financial institutions. The details of his “departure,” as he called it, strained the limits of credulity, but the tears he cried behind bars, when he told me he’d probably never hug his children again, were as real as any I’ve ever seen.