CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. -- An old pair of eyeglasses may help solve a road-rage murder from 17 years ago.
Police believe the unique glasses, found at the murder scene along I-75, belong to the killer.
Now detectives are stepping up their investigation of this cold case.
"He was built like a big bear," said Pat Duron of her late-husband, Chris. "He was hard-working, he was a really, good person, he'd do anything for you.... He was a boxer when he was younger. And he did have a temper."
Duron is working harder than ever to find her husband's killer.
"He didn't deserve to die just because he got out to fight with somebody," she said. "It may be the last chance," now, to solve the case.
It was Chris Duron's temper that got him into a road-rage fist-fight and fueled his right hook, knocking the eyeglasses off his killer. The glasses were found next to Chris's body.
Pat Duron is hoping that, with scientific advances in laboratory testing, the eyeglasses may now, finally, help police identify and find Chris's killer.
Chris was murdered on Friday, January 28, 2000.
That was one of the most memorable weekends in recent Atlanta history.
An ice storm was on its way to town, from Alabama.
Football fans were on their way to town, from all over, for Super Bowl 34 at the Georgia Dome – just 2 days away.
News coverage during the weekend barely mentioned what happened early Friday on I-75 near Hartsfield-Jackson airport.
Chris Duron had left the house at 6:00 a.m., in his new, Chevrolet Tahoe, on his way north to Tennessee.
"He was signing a $3 Million contract with one of our customers," Pat said. "We had a tile business. We were just getting rolling on that. And that was our first, big break. So he was pretty excited and pumped up when he left that morning,"
Chris was planning to be back home in time to watch the Super Bowl on TV with family and friends. Sunday would have been Chris's 39th birthday.
Instead, he drove into an unexpected confrontation with another driver, at Mile Marker 239.2, near the Ford assembly plant, where Porsche's U.S. headquarters complex is now.
"Whatever happened out there on the road, Chris got out to fist-fight with the guy," Pat said.
They began slugging it out next to Chris's Tahoe, in the left lane of I-75 northbound.
"He shouldn't have done that, but he did. That was the way he was," Pat said. "But, you know, you can't fight against a gun. And he was shot three times."
Those shots were fired right after Chris beat up the gunman and knocked his eyeglasses off.
The Clayton County police detective on the case was Victor Hill, who is now the Clayton County Sheriff.
And Detective Hill found witnesses in the pre-dawn darkness who described the gunman as taller than Chris -- who was 5 feet 7 inches tall. Witnesses also said the gunman was wearing a tan or brown trench coat on that cold morning, and driving a minivan – possibly a dark-colored Ford Aerostar.
Traffic cameras that are everywhere now had just been installed there, but they weren't switched on, yet. So there was no video.
Hill took the eyeglasses to an optometrist, who concluded from the measurements that the gunman was white and in his 50s.
Then Hill scoured thousands of optometrists' files across metro Atlanta. But he never could find out who custom-ordered those bifocals with the saddled nose-bridge and a prescription almost as unique as a finger-print:
75-25 x 81 in the right lens, and 75-25-116 in the left lens.
"He's been walking around for 17 years thinking he got away with it,” Pat said. “I've never quit looking for him."
And so Pat’s timeless, relentless journey of the heart continues.
In April, she set up a GoFundMe account to raise a reward fund. She’s asking people to try to remember that memorable weekend in January, 2000. Can they remember seeing a co-worker or neighbor, or someone else, without his eyeglasses -- and with a black eye and bruises to the left side of his face? At the time, she said, he probably looked like he'd been in a fight, but few people could have connected his injuries with any crime, since few people -- outside of police and Chris's family -- knew about it.
Pat has also persuaded Sheriff Hill to try again for a match by using up-to-date science, and by appealing again to optometrists to search their records for the man who wore the eyeglasses.
"He's a cold-blooded murderer,” she said. “And he deserves to go to prison."
The Cold Case Squad of the Clayton County District Attorney's Office and the Homicide Unit of the Clayton County Police Department are also part of the renewed investigation of the case.
Anyone with information that might help investigators should contact the Clayton County Sheriff's Office, 770-477-4479.
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