Teresa McElderry

Age: 53
Ethnicity: Black/African American
Gender: F
Date of Death: September 10-11, 2009
Type of Crime: Homicide
Date of Incident: September 10-11, 2009
Summary of Case:

Augusta, Richmond Co., GA: Born in Anniston, Alabama, about an hour and a half west of Atlanta, Teresa McElderry was a charming child who played sports and went to work right after school. Teresa had four children but struggled to raise them. Her daughters Dera, Jawona and their siblings were adopted and raised by family and loved ones. Her daughters fondly recall good times with their mother, her kindness, her BLT sandwiches, and how she danced. “She let us go outside and play,” Jawona said. “We had a normal childhood. It was good.”

As an adult, Teresa struggled with addiction and solicitation. Concerned for her well-being while on the Augusta streets, her family provided her with a cell phone and encouraged her to quit. Dera said, “I didn’t want her out there living like that, and she would say I’m okay. Nothing is going to happen to me,” But concern constantly plagued the back of their mind. “Men she hung out with, that was the issue,” Jowona remembers. “She would get with them and drink, and they would fight. She would end up in the hospital.”

Ultimately, the whole family relocated to Augusta in what seemed to be a good move for Teresa. She got a job at Maryland Fried Chicken, her own apartment, and regularly attended church. Teresa was stable and out of the downtown scene for over a year. “I was really proud of her. It motivated me and made me want to help her even more and be a part of her life,” her daughter said. “Seeing her get that job. It didn’t matter how she got there. She walked to work, but she went.”

Unfortunately, after losing her job, Teresa returned to her old lifestyle. According to the incident report with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Friday, September 11, 2009, a witness flagged down a deputy after they found a body at about 9:55 a.m. on a dirt road by the Boat House off the 300 block of Prep Phillips Drive, now Riverfront Dr. Investigators collected evidence, such as her fingerprints, tire tracks, and DNA, at the scene for processing. Police were able to use AFIS to identify the body as Teresa’s. Teresa was last seen alive on Thursday, September 10th night in downtown Augusta. She was wearing black Levis jeans, a multi-colored black, red, and grey striped shirt, and white, blue, and lime green tennis shoes with a black wig.

Captain Brandon Beckman worked with the Criminal Investigation Division and speculated that she was murdered elsewhere and was disposed of off the dirt road. “It seemed like maybe it was done in a rush where her body was found,” Cpt. Beckman said. While investigators identified 5 people of interest, no suspects have been developed and Teresa’s case has gone cold.

Season of Justice is supporting Teresa’s daughters’ fight for answers and justice by funding a 28-week-long awareness campaign with a billboard prominently featured along Reynolds St, in downtown Augusta, near where she was last seen. This billboard will remain up until October 2024 in hopes that the person with information will finally come forward and lead investigators to Teresa’s killer. We’d like to thank the Richmond Co. Sheriff’s Office and Savannah-Chatham County Crime Stoppers for their assistance and support. And our donors, without whom none of this would be possible. 

If you have any information about Teresa’s death or the person(s) responsible, please call the Richmond Co. Sheriff’s Office at 706-821-1020 or click the button below to submit an anonymous tip. 

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