Units of the Gwinnett County Police Department secured the area and crime scene investigators examined the body, the automobile and the surrounding area. The body of Mrs. Thompson was removed to the morgue behind Gwinnett County Police Headquarters, and the automobile was removed to what was the "Old Helicopter hanger", which coincidentally was in the same building as the morgue on its opposite side. An autopsy of Mrs. Thompson revealed two gunshot wounds to the head, both of which would have been instantly fatal.
Gwinnett County police set up a roadblock on Peachtree Industrial Blvd. in front of the Gwinnco Muffler Shop one week later, April 22, 1993, consisting of uniformed officers at the roadblock and detectives in and about the driveway and parking lot of the shop. At about the time of the murder one week before, officers stopped passing motorists and questioned them about what they may have seen if they had been passing the Gwinnco Muffler Shop at about that time on the previous Friday. Several witnesses stated that they had seen a white car, which may have been a police car in the shop driveway facing Peachtree Industrial Blvd.
Officer Michael Chapel of the Gwinnett County Police Department had investigated a reported theft of $6,000 at the trailer home of Emogene Thompson approximately one month earlier. He determined very quickly that the money had been taken by someone familiar with its location. Since there had been $12,000 at that location, and no burglar would take only half of it, Officer Chapel reasoned that it must have been taken by someone familiar with the home and with Mrs. Thompson. Since Mrs. Thompson's son, Michael, had previously taken some $300.00 of Mrs. Thompson's money, he told Mrs. Thompson that he felt that Michael had taken the $6000,00, and asked Mrs. Thompson whether she wanted to file a report. When he told Mrs. Thompson that he felt that Michael had taken the money, and he would probably have to arrest him if a report was filed. Mrs. Thompson declined to file a report, and Officer Chapel started to file a report of the incident but did not complete it or turn it in, feeling that he could probably handle the incident unofficially. Officer Chapel had done this successfully with other such family problem cases in the past.
Officer Chapel visited Mrs. Thompson at her home the following day to follow up on the previous visit. Nothing further was decided or acted upon as a result of this visit. In addition, Officer Chapel visited Michael Thompson at his place of employment and urged him to come forward, admit the theft, make some kind of restitution or other arrangements with his mother and close the incident. Michael denied that he had taken the money and refused to cooperate with Officer Chapel regarding this incident in any way.
It was a matter of some common knowledge among personnel at this police station that Officer Chapel was having financial problems in his personal life. He was trying to run a small business, The IronWorld Gym in Buford, and maintain his family of a wife and two children at the same time. Mrs. Chapel was employed as a waitress at the local Hooter's Restaurant.
On the night of the murder, Officer Chapel along with Officer Brian Reddy and a Sgt. Stone, both of whom were also Gwinnett County Police officers, were at the Gwinnett County fire station which adjoins the police station from which all of these officers operated from sometime in the late afternoon or early evening until between 9:25 PM and 10:00 PM. The reason they gave for their presence at the fire station was a severe storm in the area. Sometime during that period, the officers left the fire station and resumed their patrol activities. Fire Department personnel who were familiar with the officers and witnessed their departure gave widely conflicting times of departure.
An eyewitness who was passing the Gwinnco Muffler Shop at approximately the time of the murder, Karl Kauter and a friend, gave information to the police that they had seen an automobile parked in the position Emogene Thompson's was found with a police car behind it. In addition, they said that a policeman in rain garb was approaching the automobile with a flashlight in his hand. They further stated that the police car caught up with them on Peachtree Industrial Blvd., followed them for an unspecified time, then ran adjacent to them for a period of 45 seconds and finally pulled ahead of them eventually turning off Peachtree Industrial Blvd. on Raymond H. Smith St. There was an intervening traffic light, but neither automobile had to stop for it. Mr. Kauter stated that during the 45 seconds that the cars were adjacent, he had a good look at the officer in the police car, and he identified Officer Chapel from a photo lineup.
Mr. and Mrs. Hutchins, who lived within a half mile of the Gwinnco Muffler Shop, told police that they heard what sounded to them as two gunshots within approximately 2 seconds of one another at approximately 9:45 PM on the night of the murder.
Approximately one month later, Officer Michael Chapel was questioned regarding his involvement with Emogene Thompson, his personal finances and his whereabouts between 9:25 PM and 10:07 PM on the night of the murder. Officer Brian Reddy had been questioned about the night of the murder, and he had stated that Officer Chapel had not been with him and Sgt. Stone at the fire house during the period between the late afternoon arrival and the time of his (Officer Reddy's) departure from that building. After some three or more hours of questioning, Officer Chapel was taken into custody and subsequently charged with the murder of Emogene Thompson on the basis of the above evidence. At some time subsequent to Officer Chapel's arrest, Officer Brian Reddy recanted his statement and admitted that he had lied about the presence of Officer Chapel at the fire station.
After Officer Chapel's arrest, police investigators did a "luminal" presumptive blood test on Officer Chapel's automobile and found trace blood evidence on the driver's arm rest. Officer Chapel's police car had been parked in the Police Headquarters parking lot since his arrest. This parking lot is behind the headquarter building and between Police Headquarters and the morgue and helicopter hanger building. Subsequent DNA tests of the blood evidence indicated that it was the blood of Emogene Thompson.
As far as I know, no further investigation of Mrs. Thompson's murder was made by the Gwinnett County Police Department or any other law enforcement agency. Two and one half years later, in August of 1995, after a Grand Jury indictment, Michael Harold Chapel was tried and convicted of the Murder of Emogene Thompson. Since I have had no involvement with this matter other than that described in the foreward of this document, I don't know for sure if and where Mr. Chapel is incarcerated nor do I know anything of his condition or legal status at the time of this writing.