Barbara Hefner, a Georgia woman whose dead body was found floating in a lake, is the subject of an all-new episode of Swamp Murders on Investigation Discovery. Authorities say Hefner was killed by co-worker Dannie Lee Samuels Jr., also known as Danny Lee Samuels.
The Swamp Murders episode chronicling Barbara Hefner’s murder, titled “Dark Water,” will retrace the investigation into the death of a middle-aged woman who failed to meet a friend but is later found dead in a nearby lake. Viewers can look forward to a dramatic recreation of the murder as Thomson investigators tell the story.
2004: Thomson, Georgia, Missing Woman
In March of 2004, police were dispatched to a home on White Oak Road to do a welfare check on Barbara Hefner, a 53-year-old single woman who had failed to show up to a shopping excursion with a friend. Hefner’s brother contacted police about his missing sister. When authorities arrived, they found the house in disarray. It appeared that some sort of altercation had taken place inside the bedroom and in the victim’s bed, judging by the blood found on the floor and on the bed.
A search for Barbara Hefner proved successful after her body was found floating in Folly Lake in Augusta, Georgia. An autopsy report concluded that the woman had been strangled, beaten, and raped. The vaginal area showed signs of violent penetration, according to court records, and blunt force trauma was apparent on the victim’s head and chest.
After the brutal killing, 29-year-old Dannie Lee Samuels Jr. was arrested at his job and charged with Barbara Hefner’s murder after the vaginal swab taken from the victim’s body matched a DNA computer hit, leading to Samuels. Authorities say that Dannie Samuels, an ex-con with a record dating back to 1996 for burglary, worked with Barbara Hefner at Augusta Coating and Manufacturing company, where Hefner was a supervisor and a manager.
Life Sentence For Folly Lake Killer
The Shanks Street man denied raping and killing Barbara Hefner, telling police that they had consensual sex. Eventually, Dannie Lee Samuels confessed to the murder. Dannie Lee Samuels was found guilty in the strangulation death of Barbara Hefner and was given a life sentence with no chance of parole instead of the death penalty, according to court records outlined at Caselaw.
“Samuels signed a written agreement that in exchange for his waiver of the right to trial by jury, the State would remove the death penalty as a sentencing option. A bench trial commenced on August 17, 2009. At the conclusion of the guilt-innocence phase the court found Samuels guilty of all charges. After hearing evidence in the sentencing phase, the court found the existence of three statutory aggravating circumstances with regard to each of the crimes of malice murder, felony murder and rape. Samuels was sentenced on August 20, 2009 to life imprisonment without possibility of parole for malice murder, life imprisonment with parole for rape, 15-year terms for aggravated sodomy and aggravated battery, and a 10-year term for concealing a death.”
Currently, he is serving his time at the Hancock State Prison in Georgia. His appeal has been denied. Barbara Hefner’s distraught family members have had a hard time forgiving the man who took her life, Barbara Hefner’s daughter, Marijane Hefner, stated in a 2009 interview with the McDuffie Mirror.
“I had a lot of anger and a lot of fear after that happened to my mama. [Counseling] really helped me to see and understand that God knows what we need and how we need it.Forgiving has been the most difficult thing for me to do. I’m hoping that I can some how forgive him in my heart one day. It’s been pretty tough on all of us as a family.”
Tune into Swamp Murders tonight at 10/9 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery. Three weeks ago, Swamp Murders’ episode dealt with the murder of Jody Lynn Wolfe.
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