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GBI eyes dead man as lead in Cornwell case
Young Harris man not suspect yet, GBI says
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The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking at the suicide of a rape suspect in Atlanta last month as a possible lead in the August disappearance of Blairsville's Kristi Cornwell, officials said Tuesday.

James Carringer, 42, of Young Harris, killed himself April 10 as Atlanta police were trying to arrest him on a rape warrant out of Gilmer County, GBI Special Agent Mike Ayers confirmed.

Ayers avoided calling Carringer a suspect or even a person of interest in the Cornwell's disappearance near her parents' Blairsville home.

"He is a lead," Ayers said. "He is nothing more than any other lead we've had in this case."

Still, Carringer's name is the first to surface publicly since Cornwell was abducted while walking alone at night. She has not been seen since Aug. 11.

Carringer drove a silver Nissan Xterra, a make and model that was previously identified as a vehicle believed to be involved in Cornwell's abduction. He also was a suspect in the attempted abduction of a 10-year-old girl from a church parking lot in Montgomery, Ala. on April 4, Ayers confirmed. Surveillance video footage led investigators to identify Carringer as a suspect in that case.

When Carringer shot himself to death, he was wanted on a warrant charging him with the rape of a woman he knew.

Ayers said GBI agents have been to Carringer's home, where he lived with his wife and teenage children. They have not obtained a search warrant, but Ayers said the family was cooperative. He declined to say if any evidence was taken from the home.

Carringer's car has been impounded by the GBI and processed for evidence. Some crime lab test results remain pending.

The GBI has looked hard at Carringer's whereabouts on Aug. 11 and has not ruled him out in Cornwell's disappearance, Ayers said.

Ayers cautioned that Carringer was not a concrete suspect and that the possibility exists that others not connected to him are responsible for Cornwell's disappearance.

"We are still a long way from saying that he was or was not involved," Ayers said.

The GBI encourages people with tips on the case, regardless of whether they involve Carringer, to call 1-800-597-TIPS.