ROCKDALE COUNTY, Ga. — Police are trying to work to piece together exactly what happened to an elderly Lithonia man in the days before his death related to injuries from an apparent assault.
The Conyers Police Department confirmed they’re investigating the death of 76-year-old Gerald Withers, who was last seen on surveillance video leaving the Whistle Post Tavern’s parking lot in Conyers on the night of March 22. Police said he was by himself, and appeared to be fine. But family said Withers, who arrived home with several broken bones, told them two people attacked him and stomped him repeatedly.
Six days later, Withers died.
Now, police are trying to figure out what exactly happened.
11Alive’s Joe Henke spoke to Shane Perham, a close family friend of Withers, Tuesday. Perham told 11Alive they don’t have much to go on.
"They’re trying to fill in that gap from the time he left the Whistle Post Tavern and the time he got home," he said.
Perham said Withers told family he was assaulted some time between leaving the tavern and making the short drive back to his home in Lithonia, but he didn’t give many other details about what happened, including where the assault happened or who attacked him.
Perham told 11Alive Withers asked to go to the hospital, where doctors treated him for numerous injuries.
"A broken arm that had a compound fracture to it so, you had penetration through the skin," Perham described. "He was bruised, had abrasions about his head, and, of course, they couldn’t see the broken ribs, but he was complaining of them."
After several trips to the hospital, Perham said Withers died on March 28.
A Conyers Police sergeant told 11Alive they’re now having to play catch-up on the case, since investigators weren’t notified of the assault until after Withers died.
The department said they’ve determined the 76-year-old was injured in some manner, they just don’t have specific evidence showing how Withers was hurt. Investigators are now searching between Conyers and Lithonia for any more surveillance video that may show Withers on the night of March 22.
Meanwhile, Perham said family is waiting, in disbelief, for an autopsy to be released, showing the exact cause of Withers’ death. But they’re trusting that police will fill in the timeline.
"They’re trying to remain calm and peaceful during this troubled time they’re going through, but there is a lot of anger," he told 11Alive. "A lot of frustration."
Perham said Withers’ family is wanting to get word out about the man’s death, and is offering a $20,000 reward for any information that solves the case or leads to the arrest.