Jul 29, 2022 - News

Atlanta police plead for tips in two unsolved murders


Atlanta interim police chief Darin Schierbaum speaks about the 2021 killings of Katie Janness in Midtown and 12-year-old David Mack in Westwood Terrace. Photo: Kristal Dixon/Axios

It’s been one year since Katherine “Katie” Janness and her dog were found stabbed to death in Piedmont Park. Seventeen months have passed since 12-year-old David Mack was fatally shot in southwest Atlanta.

  • The killings have left the city with more questions than answers, and investigators hope the public will come forward with information needed to bring closure to the families of both victims.

Driving the news: In a news conference Thursday, Atlanta police renewed a plea for tips in both cases that have shocked and saddened the city.

  • Interim chief Darin Schierbaum said the department is "committed to bring resolution (and) closure" to the families and Westwood Terrace and Midtown communities.

Catch up quick: The bodies of Janness, 40, and her 3-year-old dog Bowie were found the night of July 28, 2021, near the park's Charles Allen Drive entrance in Midtown, the AJC previously reported.

  • Janness was captured on a surveillance camera at the entrance going into the park, but friends told the AJC that cameras inside the park were not working at the time of the attack. An autopsy found that Janness had been stabbed at least 50 times, according to the AJC.

And on Feb. 10 of last year, Mack, who was a student at Young Middle School, was found shot to death on Shirley Street in the Westwood Terrace community, Fox 5 Atlanta reported.

  • Atlanta police said his grandmother reported him missing the day before his body was found.

What they're saying: Deputy chief Charles Hampton, Jr. said APD is working with the FBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office on the case.

  • No suspects have been identified. Investigators have executed multiple search warrants in and around the area of the killing.

What's happening: In the Mack investigation, Hampton said leads have slowed down, and detectives have re-canvassed the neighborhood. He urged the community to call the Crime Stoppers Atlanta tip line to provide any information they have about the case.

  • "Many cases are solved by the commitment and the cooperation from our community," Hampton said. "And so, this is a plea that we asked you to do the right thing and help us bring closure to this family that's been suffering for the last 17 months."

Ayana Riley, Mack's aunt, told Axios that he reminded her of a politician because he loved to debate and would research topics and present that information with the hopes of getting others to agree with him.

  • She urged parents to talk with their children about the case and to come forward if they know something.

Zach Navejas, president of the Westwood Terrace Neighborhood Association, told Axios that it's concerning that Mack's case hasn’t been solved. Despite the killing, Navejas told Axios that the neighborhood is quiet, and the residents know one another.

  • "Our neighbors love each other, and it's a safe area to live," he said.

The year since his friend and employee was found dead has been rough for Chip Powell, who supervised Janness at Whole World Improv Theatre where she worked as a bar manager.

  • Friends gathered Thursday at Piedmont Park to honor Janness.

Powell told Axios that he wants the world to remember Janness not as the woman who was killed in the park, but as Katie who had a sweet soul, loved "cheesy" horror music, was passionate about her music and liked to make people laugh.

  • "It's important that her name stay out there and that we still keep attention on this so that moving forward, this will hopefully be solved, and Katie will have justice," he said.

Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477.


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