Five white people—including two law enforcement officers—were arrested Friday in Georgia in connection with the murder of a black man 34 years ago, NBC News reports. Timothy Coggins was 23 when his body was found in a grassy area 30 miles south of downtown Atlanta in 1983. Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix says Coggins was "brutally murdered." According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dix says suspects at the time threatened and intimidated possible witnesses, and the case was never solved. "It worried everybody to death, but we never could find out what was going on, so life just continued," a friend of Coggins tells WSB. The case was reopened in March after new evidence turned up, and the original witnesses—afraid to come forward at the time—were re-interviewed. It's unclear what the new evidence was.
Bill Moore, 58, and Frankie Gebhardt, 59, were charged with murder, aggravated assault, and more. Gregory Huffman, 47, was charged with obstruction and violation of oath of office. He was fired as a detention officer with the sheriff's office following his arrest. Lamar Bunn, a police officer in a nearby town, was charged with obstruction. His mother, Sandra Bunn, was also charged with obstruction. Dix says investigators believe the murder was "racially motivated" and would be considered a hate crime today. "It was meant to send a message and it was brutal," he says. Officials say more arrests are possible. "We have always wanted justice, held out for justice, and knew that we would have justice," the victim's niece, Heather Coggins, says. (Read more cold cases stories.)