Nearly 19 years after an 11-year-old boy named Levi Frady was murdered, his killer remains free. This blog is dedicated to providing the community, the family, and the nation with factual information taken from published news reports — and for the first time — unpublished one-on-one interviews with family members, retired or former law enforcement, an eyewitness who discovered the boy’s body, videotaped interviews of suspects, family photographs, maps, family history, and expert opinions. It’s goal is simple yet profound: to bring Levi’s murderer to justice.
Why hasn’t this crime been solved?
Levi’s body was found Oct. 23, 1997 in a rain-filled pit in Dawson Forest, Dawson County, Georgia — approximately 45 miles north of Atlanta. He had been shot three times, according to news reports.
People have been silent for too long.
“I can’t talk about that,” said former Dawson Forest Area Manager William Thacker, 63, on a warm spring day in 2015 as he and his wife sold honey from the back of a pick-up parked at the Dawson County Extension office. “I was the second one on the scene.”
Law enforcement officials such as Thacker are specifically trained to not discuss details of an “open and active” investigation. As of Feb. 23, 2016, Levi Frady’s case is still open and active.
In Georgia, open and active cases are not subjected to public scrutiny. No one — not family — not the media — is allowed access to Frady’s files. No one knows the last time law enforcement looked at the case.
Too many questions go unanswered.
What you are about to read is a narrative woven together from facts after nearly two years of research by award-winning columnist and investigative reporter, Kimberly Boim. She served as editor and publisher of the Dawson News & Advertiser until it was sold in 2015.
Was Levi dead before his body was dumped in Dawson Forest? Was there a cover-up by law enforcement? Was there a drug deal gone bad? Had he been sexually abused, or sexually mutulated?
Now, pause for a moment to consider this:
Is it possible tensions were so high between law enforcement in Dawson and Forsyth counties and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that it became impossible for them to work together to solve the case? Was a member of law enforcement involved?
Or, was it more simple, as the former editor of the Forsyth Herald newspaper James Budd said recently, “A clever killer beat the cops: at least so far.”
You be the judge.
Before the horrific details of Levi Frady’s murder are posted, it is important to understand Levi — the boy — before he became Levi — the victim.
‘Just a normal little boy’
Levi was blessed with the gift of music. He loved kittens and jumping ramps on his red bicycle. And he had an enormous heart, according to family members. He perhaps could have been the greatest concert pianist in Georgia history, maybe the country.
And his nanny, the one who first showed him the keys, she would have been standing there in a beautiful satin gown with a strand of snowy white pearls around her neck when he played Carnegie Hall.
His talent, she said, revealed itself one day after school in the basement.
“Nay-nee, Nay-nee!” the boy called upstairs.
“What is it Levi?
“Come down here!”
“My hands is covered with flour,” Nanny yelled across the living room to the basement door. “I’m makin’ biscuits.”
The little boy didn’t care.
“Nay-nee. Come quick!”
Nanny thought maybe her grandson was hurt, so she wrung her hands in her apron and hurried down the worn carpeted stairs.
Levi was poised with his back to her, his little legs barely long enough to push down hard on the pedals.
“Listen, I can do it.”
Nanny settled down on the sofa with a sweet smile and gently folded her flour-stewn hands. There seemed to be a light coming from the boy’s face. Maybe it was just his enthusiasm. She blinked hard, frowning in disbelief. Yet, it was there.
His small fingers floated across the length of the keyboard, smoothly, without touching a key.
“Quit teasin’ me Levi,” Nanny said.
“All right. Now, listen,” he said, stretching his arms and back, interlocking his fingers and cracking his knuckles.
The boy played a sweet, simple tune Nanny recognized. Ode to Joy was one of her favorites. She had shown him a few keys, a few notes, and now, there he was, playing without hesitation, without mistakes.
Nanny’s thin bottom lip quivered. Her eyes welled-up as she pushed away a few gray strands that slipped from her ponytail. Nanny had spent her life working, raising her children, loving her husband. Yet, now, it was her grandchildren whose visits she embraced like a warm, fuzzy blanket.
“They’s just normal boys,” Nanny said of Levi and his cousins. “They like playin’ in the creek and visiting each other’s houses, jumping on the trampoline, and ridin’ their bicycles. Levi was so kind and so sweet. I just don’t know why anybody would want to hurt a little boy like that.”
Levi liked giving things. He was known to use his money to buy pizza for everyone in the family, which his granddaddy, Lamar, promptly gave back to him on the ride home to his mama’s.
“Lamar never got to know who killed Levi,” Nanny said. “I hope I know who done it before I die too. It just breaks my heart. All our hearts.”
Levi’s grandaddy passed away Feb. 26, 2014. He and Nanny were married 55 years. Lamar retired from Combustion Engineering. He was a Baptist and a life-long resident of Forsyth County, according to his obituary. His funeral service was held at Ingram’s Funeral Home in Cumming — the same place as Levi’s.
Levi and his twin sister, Laci, attended North Forsyth Middle School in Cumming, Ga. But, his best friend was his cousin, Justin, who penned this memorial poem in 2006 — eight years after Levi’s murder. It was published Sunday, March 6, 2006 in the Forsyth County News:
“As I sit here thinking of you shedding my tears, I picture you growing these past eight years. What would you be like? How tall you’d have grown? But then reality checks, and I see you are gone. But then I go back: what were we, ten? when Nanny used to call us her little men? When you and me and Arliss jumped ramps with our bikes. We’d go to the creek and take three hour hikes. We’d rush down the yard and climb up our tree. We’d sit there and stare as far as we could see. I remember the good times. There were never any bad. You were the best friend I ever had. I can’t help but to cry. You were just so young. Now we hear you in the chimes we have hung. Who could be so heartless to harm a child of eleven when Jesus’ hand caressed you to Heaven? Until we meet again, in my heart is where you’ll be my friend. This poem can’t begin to express the feelings we all feel. We love you so much and we miss you too. But even though you are gone, we know that one day we’ll each get our chance to meet you at the golden gates. And after they are opened, we can spend eternity as friends. — In loving memory, Justin Frady
NEXT UP: What happened to Levi Frady?
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