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No leads in slaying of West Hall man in home

69-year-old likely killed by intruder, official says

POSTED: May 14, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Kristen Morales/The Times

A map of the home where a man was found dead Thursday.

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A home invasion slaying remained unsolved Friday, some 24 hours after a retiree was found shot and killed inside his West Hall home.

Max Eugene "Gene" Baggett, 69, was discovered with a fatal gunshot wound to the head at about 5 p.m. Thursday by his wife, Hall County Sheriff's Maj. Jeff Strickland said.

The slaying occurred inside Baggett's upscale lakefront brick home on Morgan Road, near Duckett Mill Park.

Baggett's wife had been out shopping Thursday when she returned home to find her husband dead on the floor of a bedroom, Strickland said.

"We believe he had a confrontation with an intruder inside his residence and was shot and killed," Strickland said.

No one was home at the residences on either side of the Baggett house at the time of the shooting and investigators currently have no descriptions of a suspect or vehicle to go on.

Strickland said Baggett had owned the property for more than 30 years before building the house as a retirement home less than two years ago. He had been in his yard planting plants Thursday and was last seen outside at about 11 a.m., Strickland said.

Authorities are looking at two other burglaries committed in the Duckett Mill Road area within the last month to see if there is a connection, Strickland said.

Strickland would not comment on whether any items were taken from Baggett's home. A loaded handgun belonging to Baggett was undisturbed in his closet and his car remained parked in the carport, Strickland said.

Joe Holloway, who owns a small weekend home on the lot to the left of the Baggett home, said he was "real surprised" by the shooting.

"I wouldn't think something like this to happen here," Holloway said. "I've never had a problem in the 30 years I've had this property. It would bother me if somebody would come out in the middle of the day and do this."

Holloway said Baggett and his wife were "nice people."

"He was fairly outgoing and fairly easygoing," Holloway said. He said Baggett had built the house within the last two years to spend his retirement. Baggett lived in Tucker before moving to Gainesville and worked in real estate and insurance. He owned rental property in Columbus, Holloway said.

Baggett's adult son lives in a house across the road from his father's home. He declined to speak with a reporter Friday.

Strickland said if Baggett was killed by a stranger, as authorities suspect, it would be uncommon. Most homicides are committed by people who know their victims.

It would be the second stranger-to-stranger slaying this year in Hall County. On April 20, a man was charged with fatally shooting another man in a road-rage confrontation on Merck Street. Hugo Tepanca did not know his victim, Jose Vargas, when he shot him, authorities said.



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