Georgia Cold Cases

The Georgia Cold Cases Project at Emory University investigates racially motivated civil rights-era murders that took place in the state from the end of World War II to the late 1960s. These are the cases that students have examined, are examining, or will examine in the future. If you have information about any of these cases, or would like to notify the project about a case we may not have listed, please contact us.

This is a map showing the location of all of the cases currently under investigation by the project. You can click on each one to learn more about each case.


Joseph Jeter

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Weeks of tension between police and residents of the Perry Homes housing project in northwest Atlanta peaked on September 13, 1958, when several hundred residents protested police handling of a suspect. By the time the confrontation was over, Officer W.O. Dempsey had shot Joseph H. Jeter, superintendent of buildings and grounds at Perry Homes, through the chest, killing him. Perry residents said they had been pleading with police to stop pistol-whipping the suspect in the back seat of a police vehicle and that Jeter was shot as he tried to explain that the pleas were coming from responsible adults. But police said Jeter, 40, and others had tried to wrest the suspect from them and threatened them. A Fulton County grand jury concluded Dempsey acted in self-defense. But a citizens committee that included Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., developer Herman Russell, Morehouse President Benjamin Mays, Atlanta Daily World Publisher C.A. Scott, and businessman Jesse Hill Jr. said they believed the shooting was unjustified. ​