Middle Georgia Cold Cases: The Last Words

This barbershop in Dublin is where Robert Hightower's jewelry store used to be.
This barbershop in Dublin is where Robert Hightower's jewelry store used to be.

DUBLIN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Dublin police are still trying to find a killer who attacked a jewelry store owner 27 years ago.

The city’s police chief, Tim Chatman, says the victim initially survived the attack, but left little clues as to who went after him.

When you’re on a mission to solve a case as old as this one, you have to be persistent.

“It compounds a problem when you don’t have cooperation that you desire to bring the case to closure,” Chatman said.

Chatman is talking about the case that happened at what’s now a barbershop on Madison Street in March 1989.

67-year-old Robert Hightower, a jewelry store owner, was attacked — possibly pistol-whipped, inside his store.

“A witness saw him walk outside. What caught his attention, Mr. Hightower had blood on his shirt,” Chatman said.

Hightower then drove home, about nine miles, to East Dublin where his wife was stunned.

“She attempted to call 911 and he refused and got into an argument with his wife about calling the authorities,” Chatman rememebed while looking over the case file.

A bloodied Hightower was resilient and stubborn until his wife drove him to the hospital. Chief Chatman was a detective assigned to the case at the time.

“When I tried to do an interview with him, he was very evasive with me. He did not want to tell me any of the details,” he said.

Chatman says with little clues and no testimony, the only place he could start finding answers was inside that jewelry store.

“What was strange about it was, when we went back to his office he had cleaned up. It was immaculate. There were bloody towels all in the trash can, but that’s it,” Chatman said.

Clean? After being attacked? Chatman went back to ask Hightower more questions — this time he gave Chatman a response.

“At one particular time I asked him do you know your attackers and he said ‘I will handle it,” Chatman said.

Investigators couldn’t find anything stolen inside the store. The only thing missing was Hightower’s gun and a .38 caliber handgun Hightower owned.

“We were trying to put all the pieces together why would he leave and number one not call the authorities when it happened. He cleaned up his office, got into an argument with his wife, and when the authorities were trying to speak with him about it, he was very evasive,” Chatman said.

A short time after Hightower and Chatman spoke, he died from his injuries in the hospital.

Chatman says as the years pass, someone needs to come out of hiding and confess.

“That missing link could be that person who actually has that missing part,” he said.

It’s a frustrating situation, Chatman insists, will get solved.

“This is someone’s husband, maybe a father, maybe an uncle, grandfather,” he said.

If you have information in solving this case, call the Dublin Police Department at 478-277-5023.


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(478) 745-4141 ext. 311 Skyler joined the 41 NBC News Team in April 2013. He anchors the news at 6 p.m. and also covers stories going on throughout the day. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb right outside of Atlanta. Before heading to Middle Georgia, Skyler worked as a stage manager for WSB- TV in Atlanta. Skyler graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Multimedia Communication. He went to school initially to be an architect, but one step inside of the student radio station changed everything. While at Georgia Southern, he was exposed to radio and television and became the Program Director of the student radio station and was a part of a team that received a Southeast Regional student Emmy for their work on the program "Inside Georgia Southern Football." Skyler anchored and reported for Georgia Southern University's "Eagle News." There he covered the 2010 midterm elections live as well as reported on stories in the community. In the Spring 2012, Skyler interned for Clear Channel in Los Angeles, California. Skyler is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. In his free time, you can find Skyler watching the latest movies and reading up on all things in Hollywood. He also loves spending time with his family and friends and finding inspirational quotes. He loves telling stories about politics, tax dollars at work in the community, and highlighting people and business who don’t normally get the spotlight. If you have any story ideas, email Skyler at shenry@41nbc.com.