Background of Dan Gunn, Jr.
Revised and Updated for Father's Day, June, 2013 - the 29th year of Dan Gunn Jr's Tragic Death
Click here to read the Father's Day, 2012 Tribute
Dan Gunn, Jr. was born to Minnie Benton Gunn in Monticello, Ga. during WWI. At the age of thirteen, he quit school and went to work with his father, Houston County native Dan Gunn, Sr., to save the Gunn family farm during the Great Depression. The farm was located in the Gunn Road area between Centerville and I-75. His brother and past member of Perry United Methodist Church, Otis Benton Gunn graduated from Young Harris Academy and as was customary for brothers of a family, joined The Army Air Corps as hostilities in Europe escalated. Otis Benton Gunn was selected as General George S. Patton's pilot during WWII as his father and brother sacrificed for the war effort back home on the farm in Ga. It should go without saying the hard work involved during the Depression and war effort in this great country during these trying times. One brother went off to war while the only other brother worked the farm with his father for the war effort.
The term "Depression-Baby" was coined to describe the frugality of the citizens of this era. Dan Gunn, Jr. was a classic example. The man believed in hard work and thrift. He drove the same early '50's era GMC pick-up for eighteen years and didn't own a truck with air conditioning until 1978, still relegating it to other farm workers! He was driving a little economical utility type Datsun the day he was killed in his own home on US Hwy 41. Dan Gunn, Jr. was very much a part of what made this country great. As most of his generation he believed in paying his bills and taxes on time and plowed any profits back into the business, living frugally. He carried the lessons of economy learned during these dark times throughout his life. He and his ancestors contributed greatly to the growth and betterment of Houston County always being a very significant contributor to the tax base.
He was always very vocal about hypocrisy in society and critical of government corruption, never withholding his opinions about dishonest government officials, frequently confronting and loudly voicing his displeasure with local authorities about illegal drugs in the area. This man denied his educational opportunities, went to work at the young age of thirteen in one of the most trying times of our country, working feverishly long hours through the darkest period in modern world-history, suppressing the Nazi and Imperial Japan war machines, contributing significantly to this country's rise out of the Great Depression and winning those wars overseas. History has documented the sacrifice and this country's coming together for a common cause in this era. Dan Gunn, Jr. and his family were very much a part of these successful efforts. This lifetime Georgia taxpayer had most definitely earned the right to express his displeasure with government officials and most certainly should have had his murder properly and thoroughly investigated, not simply scapegoating, targeting and pursuing the most convenient individual and one of the victims of this crime with relentless intent and then outrageously giving preferential treatment to the initial primary suspect, allowing an additional crime wave in the midstate area. As he continued contributing to the advancement of our society and the betterment of Houston County came another war era he never agreed with. He never accepted the drug use of the Vietnam War protesters, but he very much understood their opposition to our country's military presence in Southeast Asia. As was the habit of responsible citizens of this era he set aside time for the sad evening news body-count by Walter Cronkite and along with many Americans this was a source of endless frustration for him. The summer of 1970 inundation of "hippies" at the Byron Pop Festival - officially named the "Second-Annual-Atlanta-International-Pop-Festival" - brought the peace and love anti-war movement, along with the drug culture to the midstate area. This was a large national event featuring acts such as Jimi Hendrix, The Allman Brothers Band and many more popular acts of the era, bringing an influx of hundreds of thousands of spectators just three miles up US 41 from Gunn Farms at Middle Ga. Raceway. It would be difficult to estimate the degree of "sudden change" versus the inevitable social change sweeping our country at the time on the "local area". Suffice it to say the area was unprepared for the involution of the drug culture this event left behind. (See Southern Fried Woodstock and Hippies in Dixie articles). Being of a more trusting era, Mr. Gunn, divorced and living alone, probably didn't always take the necessary protective steps that such change and resulting crime required of someone sometimes at home alone. Anyone in the area in the '70's and '80's may recall the saying – "if you can't find illicit drugs in Atlanta, try Warner Robins." This is a quote that was in the state media back then. Dan Gunn, Jr. wasn't reserved with criticism of what he felt – and as anyone in the area at that time will recall – was lax law enforcement in the sales of illegal drugs in Houston County.
All through the years as these changes developed in our society Dan Gunn, Jr. continued to work hard, pay his taxes on time and was well known and respected throughout the Middle Georgia area for his well planned and economic farming practices. He was always at the forefront of adopting innovative and efficient conservation farming. He was in the process of acquiring additional acreage in Peach County and implementing "no-till" crop rotation cycle practice and planting pecan trees - as many he planted are now preserved in the Eagle Springs development show - within peach orchards maturing as the peach trees aged out. He was adapting this practice that is in wide use today when he was killed February 27, 1984.
The ancestors, family and Mr. Gunn were part of, witnessing first-hand, enduring incredible hardship, including himself, coming of age in the Great Depression, arguably the most remarkable times and events in American history. During Mr. Gunn's life, farming went from using mules to tractors and the modern machinery seen today. He saw the development from steam engines to diesel-electric rail power, from darkness to light as the Roosevelt administration's Rural Electrification Program brought electricity to farms and telegraph to telephones as the utility poles emerged dotting rural landscapes nationwide, along with radio to television and automobiles as Henry Ford made them widely available. This was the iconic period of mechanical innovation known as "The Industrial Revolution" that brought the world into the modern age. He and countless others helped build the greatest nation this world has ever seen! This man's ancestors, family and descendants deserve more consideration and better treatment than they have received from the District Attorney's office and Sheriff's Department in both Peach and Houston Counties. The recent numerous arrest began with a drug raid on his home in Byron, Ga. (June 2010).
Any outside or media inquiries more than likely would be met with "open-case" privilege to any open-records request. Middle Georgia citizens and higher government officials should demand that a third party or agency be allowed to review this case and report the findings! Why, after all these years, they are now reactivating the case because of this site, will not Houston County authorities allow the GBI or an unbiased outside agency to take a look at the case?
The citizens of Houston County and The Telegraph should give this case more scrutiny! With the primary suspect compiling ten felony convictions along with the new development of an eleventh felony arrest in neighboring Peach County for two ounces of methamphetamine, not to mention the most current seven misdemeanors and one felony arrest resulting in the suspect, once again, violating his Superior Court probation in Houston County. It certainly appears Houston County authorities simply don't wish the truth to come out about the way this murder investigation has been conducted. The suspect's felony conviction record is included here, as mentioned,along with numerous Houston County arrests (2000-2013).
It also appears in part due to shrinkage of print media that this case is receiving inadequate attention from The Telegraph, unlike The Athens Banner Herald who took a similar case all the way to the State Supreme Court. It would seem a hard working taxpayer from Houston County should get the same consideration by the regional publication. Should not The Telegraph submit an open records request on this cold case and report what they find or if they are stonewalled? The Fourth Estate (the press), resulting in an informed public is the only institution that keeps the judicial and law enforcement branches of our system in check. What recourse does the general public have when law enforcement authorities decide not to do the right thing? If cops choose not to charge (enforce the law) someone who assaults you, you can't force (sue) them to do so, like medical malpractice. The press is the only way to embarrass them into doing so. Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, nearing the end of his eight years in office, had the opportunity of appointing an interim D.A. in Houston County who could have pursued this case, especially, considering a suspect's felony arrest in nearby Byron, Ga. George Hartwig, who was elected by the citizens of Houston County, is coincidentally very knowledgeable about this case should now be giving this case renewed attention in light of the suspect's recent felony and V.O.P. rearrest! These issues are particularly pertinent considering all these felony violations beginning in Byron, June 2010 and ending with D.A. Hartwig signing an order of rehabilitation at The Potter House in Atlanta, GA. Peach County and Houston County dropped all felony 2010 charges, passing an opportunity to keep him on supervision! It is very clear that there never was any intention of prosecuting this repeat offender in Macon nor Houston Judicial Circuits on these cases. It appears while on felony probation in Houston County he will only be rehabilitated, which typically is not permissible of repeated V.O.P. offenders on felony probation in Houston County!!!
It sure is questionable if this particular individual will ever be held accountable for any crimes since being granted bond in Peach County and then having the resulting felony violation of probation charges dropped in Houston County Superior Court appearing very unlikely this latest arrest will be used to apply pressure for information about this 1984 killing! Informed citizens maybe should consider how likely that is to occur taking into account the century-old ties of former Gov. Perdue's and Houston County Sheriff Cullen Talton's families and the Oaky Woods land deal fiasco near their homes in the Bonaire, Ga. area. Also demonstrating the cronyism and power of this group of businessmen and politicians as the escalation of the land values and the beneficiaries of the vast state route Hwy 96 widening project and massive complex interchange at Hwy 247 in Bonaire, Ga.
The Perdue, Talton and Gunn families go back centuries in Houston County. Former Governor Perdue and Sheriff Talton's families have been associated in the Bonaire area for over a century. Considering their historic ties, it could be hoped that they would use their combined influence to encourage action in the cold case of a north Houston County Dirt Farmer. One, remaining unresolved, that could be one of the few blemishes on the record-setting tenure of the other.
The suspect's felony conviction record is included here, as mentioned, along with numerous Houston County arrests (2000-2013), with his name revealed here first for the general public.
Has there been a cover up in this cold case? District Attorney George Hartwig should be held accountable confirming the voters' faith in him. Why try to rehabilitate this career criminal when these new felony charges could be used to apply pressure for information on this case!!! If they are not willing to release the case file to an unbiased party, such as the GBI, that would be telling. Midstate citizens, particularly residents of Houston County, would be well served to question why modern updated scientific crime solving methods have not been applied in this slaying. While considering this case, recall the dedication and sacrifice of this man, his family along with millions of others in this nation's and world's history. This man went to work at a young age to save the family farm during the Great Depression, then making judicious use of rationed resources throughout our war efforts overseas. This "Child -of-the-Depression" took a minimum number of vacations of any significance and approximately three out of state trips in his entire life.
As his few remaining peers, contemporaries and members of the "Greatest Generation" pass into history, the memory of Dan Gunn, Jr. requires no less than full disclosure of the case file and a thorough accounting of how the investigation was carried out by law enforcement officials in Houston County, Georgia.
It goes without saying what a cruel slap in the face to this man's memory and survivors is sentencing this suspect to rehabilitation on the anniversary of his murder! Is that a hell of a coincidence or a nasty message?
Newspaper article in The Daily Sun, front page, Wednesday, February 29, 1984: "Dan Gunn Remembered as Friendly, Hard-working Farmer"
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