GBI officially rules Deanna Shirey's cause of death

Posted at 4:00 PM, Oct 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-15 13:16:22-04

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has officially ruled a cause of death for Deanna Shirey. 

The GBI has officially ruled the cause of death to be death by violent homicide. 

The GBI stated that specific details about the nature of her injuries are being withheld due to an open and pending criminal investigation.  

Robert Carter II was charged for the murder of Shirey in July.

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) - Robert Carter II has been charged in the murder of Deanna Shirey. 

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation presented arrest warrants on Robert Carter II for the offenses of malice murder and concealing the death of another regarding the murder of Deanna Shirey.

The warrants were signed adding these new charges to the charges he is facing for two other incidents in Thomasville and Ochlocknee. 

Carter will be served with the new warrants at the Thomas County Jail, where he is being housed on other charges.

GBI Agents, Thomasville Police and Thomas County deputies are still investigating the evidence seized in the three crimes as they continue to build their cases against Carter for the alleged offenses. 

An autopsy was conducted on Deanna Shirey on Monday at the GBI Crime Lab in Macon. All tests associated with the autopsy have not been completed and are still in progress. 

Those results will be provided to the GBI Field Office upon completion. 

Additional charges against Carter are also anticipated at a later date. This case is active and ongoing.

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) - A Thomasville woman's family is sharing more details about her relationship with the person of interest in her death investigation.

After disappearing for nearly two weeks, GBI agents say 70-year-old Deanna Shirey's body was found in Robert Lee Carter II's yard last Friday.

Carter was Shirey's handyman for years, but WTXL has learned he was working with an expired license and a criminal history.

Documents WTXL obtained from the City of Thomasville show Carter's handyman license expired in November 2017. On Carter's most recent license application, one of his references was from a "Mrs. Shirey," who said Carter did "excellent work."

WTXL asked city officials if the reference is from Deanna Shirey. They have not yet responded.

Carter was also a registered sex offender. Plus, before he was arrested last week, he was out on bond for a 2017 charge of aggravated sexual battery in Thomas County. 

Shirey's family had no idea. They say Shirey trusted Carter.

"Mom has used Robert Carter on and off to do odd handyman jobs around the house for the last 10 years," said Nick Abiusi, Shirey's son-in-law. "His business card said that he was a licensed handyman, so there was no reason for mom or anyone in the family to believe he had a checkered past."

The Thomas County Sheriff's Office says that feeling of trust is how Carter got close to Shirey, another woman in Thomasville he allegedly robbed and assaulted, and a family in Ochlockonee he's accused of holding hostage before running from police.

"He had a connection because he was a handyman. He was known to them. It was easy for him to gain access to them," said Thomas County Lt. Tim Watkins.

Both authorities and Shirey's family say, even if you think you know someone, you can never be too careful.

"Call the building inspectors office, whether it's city or county. Ask to see if they have a license. Make sure they are bonded," said Lt. Watkins.

"Look at who you are allowing into your home to make sure they are safe to be around your loved ones," said Abiusi.

Abiusi added: "One of the questions that we struggle with as a family still is, what drove Robert Carter, after 10 years of working with mom, to attack her so viciously and do this?"

The one silver lining?

"He's no longer on the streets and he's no longer a threat to anyone else in this community," said Abiusi.

As Thomasville police, Thomas County deputies and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation work to compile all their findings in this case, an autopsy on Shirey's body is underway. The findings will determine if Carter will face charges in her death.

Shirey's family is holding a celebration of life in her honor this Thursday.