Bryan County High Remembers Slain Student - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/08/04

Bryan County High Remembers Slain Student

Students gathering to say goodbye. Students gathering to say goodbye.

Bryan County High School continues to mourn the death of senior Gerald Mutcherson. On Wednesday, a passerby found Mutcherson's body in the woods along Porterfield Road in Ellabell.

GBI and Bryan County investigators are still waiting on the autopsy report, and the man they arrested for killing Mutcherson isn't saying much. But they are trying to track down information to find out why Mutcherson was murdered.

Students at Bryan County High gathered around the flagpole between classes. By lunchtime, there was small memorial made up of memories of Gerald. There are personal poems and letters, even some crackers. Crackers were Gerald's favorite snack, and students say he was always going to the vending machine to buy more.

Gerald's sister Freddiemae stopped by to see what Gerald's classmates had done. "It made me feel better because I know he was loved," she said.

It's hard for anyone to believe that Gerald is really gone. While some students are grieving silently, others are visiting the four extra counselors the school brought in. Over the past two days, they have met with more than 75 students. In some cases, the counselors have actually gone to the students they know are having problems.

Murder isn't something this town, let alone children, are used to dealing with. Why was Gerald murdered, and why was his body left in the woods? Investigators are trying to get to the bottom of it. Wednesday night they arrested the man they believe killed Gerald, 34-year-old Stacey Lanham.

Gerald's sister says she'd seen the man before. "He wasn't a friend of the family or anything, but my brother knew who he was."

But Freddiemae and investigators still don't know how he knew him, or why Lanham allegedly killed him. "I don't understand why anybody could, because he really didn't mess with anybody," said Freddiemae. "He wasn't perfect but he was a person you could get along with."

Bryan County High School students have also organized a candlelight vigil. It will be Monday night at 7pm in front of the school.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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