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Victim's estranged husband charged in White County death

POSTED: August 1, 2008 5:01 a.m.

The mother of a White County woman killed this weekend said she never could have predicted that her daughter’s life would end the way it did.

"We had no idea that (Hart) would ever hurt Stephanie this way," said Janice Haslup, referring to Jonathan Hart, the man charged with her daughter’s death. "Stephanie had no idea. She was not in fear of him. She was not scared of him."

Jonathan Hart, the estranged husband charged in the shooting death of 21-year-old 911 dispatcher Stephanie Hart, was found in Louisiana walking along the side of Interstate 20 Monday morning.

"Apparently, Louisiana authorities found him walking on the side of the road, and in a routine check, our warrant popped up, so they took him into custody," said Chief Deputy John O’Brien of the White County Sheriff’s Office.

Jonathan Hart, who owned the residence where Stephanie Hart was shot Saturday, is now in custody in Monroe, La., according to the White County Sheriff’s Office.

Though Jonathan left the White County home in his vehicle, he was found by Louisiana authorities on foot.

O’Brien said finding a suspect out of state by chance was a bit unusual.

"You can probably attribute it to luck," O’Brien said.

White County Coroner Ricky Barrett said on Sunday that Stephanie Hart, of Toccoa, was found dead at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at her former home off Lothridge Road, about two to three miles from Ga. 115. She was no longer living there at the time of her death, O’Brien said.

Haslup said after a year of marriage and a fight in 2007, Stephanie Hart and Jonathan Hart split up and had not been in contact until this past week.

"Since she had left her husband, she’d just been trying to get everything back together and had her own apartment and was just really enjoying life," Haslup said. "It seemed like he was going to leave her alone and let her go on about her life."

Haslup said her family has had a hard time dealing with the anger of trying to rationalize the irrational murder.

"We are all in favor of them doing everything to him that they can possibly. We want to make sure he faces some type of judgement on this," she said.

Stephanie Hart’s body was sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Atlanta for an autopsy. The autopsy took place at 10 a.m. Monday, but no details are yet available.

Haslup, who also works as a 911 operator, said Stephanie Hart loved her job and planned on a career as a 911 operator. She had recently been recognized in White County for a case she had handled especially well.

"She was a real good hard worker for the town," said Ann Darden, the assistant city manager in Mount Airy, where Stephanie worked before going to White County. "She was a real sweet girl."

And Haslup said the community has taken notice of Stephanie Hart’s good work by offering her a full honors ceremony at her funeral.

"We’re real proud. And when we can, we focus on any little bright spot we can," Haslup said. "She would be so honored."


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