GBI,TCSO Offering $7,500 Reward to Help Solve Case
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Eastman Field office, and the Toombs County Sheriff’s Office are asking for the public’s help in solving a June 9, 2014, robbery and fatal shooting in Santa Claus. A $7500 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Chris Wiggins, owner of the Santa Claus Mini Mart gas station and convenience store where the crime occurred. Immediately following the incident, the Sheriff’s Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) probed the shooting scene and conducted interviews. Pieces of the puzzle involving Wggins’ death started to come together, but information was sketchy and so-called eyewitness accounts conflicted. There were no security cameras in the store. Initially promising leads collapsed; no arrests were made. Now, eight years later, the case is still unsolved.
Wiggins was only a few days shy of his 50th birthday when the shooting occurred. Every year, on the anniversary of her son’s death, Dale Wiggins reminds the community that she is still seeking resolution of the case.
What Sheriff Alvie “Junior” Kight and the GBI determined following the incident was that two males wearing masks and brandishing guns entered the store and confronted Wiggins, who was behind the counter. Wiggins drew his pistol and was able to fire several rounds before being fatally wounded where he stood. A young assistant, who had been in the kitchen of the store, emerged when he heard a commotion and the suspects fired at him but missed. The suspects then ordered the boy to hand over bags of cash that were on the premises and afterward fled the scene, sparing the teen’s life. In a 2020 interview with The Advance, Kight said the suspects were fully clothed and wearing longsleeved shirts and masks. It was impossible to determine ethnicity and physical characteristics beyond one being tall and the other short, Kight said. “We had no cameras at the scene and one eye witness who was a young kid scared to death.” No fingerprints were obtained because the suspects touched nothing. Authorities determined that one suspect stood at the door of the store, never entering, and acted as a lookout. The other suspect entered the store but never came further than the counter.
“We don’t have a lot from the scene. We recovered shell casings but no weapon was ever found,” Kight recalled. The GBI’s crime scene technician combed the scene and even returned later to recover additional rounds that had lodged in different areas of the store, but without a weapon, the rounds were not helpful in solving the case.
“We have followed a hundred or more leads. Every time we get a call that gives us information, we run that lead out,” Kight said.
“This case is like a puzzle. You get little bits and pieces and start putting them all together. Every year, we review this case,” Kight said, adding that the GBI has been very cooperative in helping local law enforcement continue the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call GBI Eastman Office at478-374-6988 or Toombs County Sheriff’s Office at 912-526-6778. Anonymous tips can be made via the GBI Tip line at 1-800-597-8477 or website: https://investigative- gbi.georgia.gov/gbitip- line.