The Curious Death of Lori Williams
At 6:55 p.m. Monday evening, the makeshift funeral procession for Lori Williams began. As a nondescript dark van pulled slowly down a longish gravel drive off Klopfer Road in Juliette, a tag on the front bumper reading “Monroe County Memorial Chapel” hinted at the vehicle’s grim cargo. The solemn and weary faces of Monroe County Coroner Jay Proctor, Monroe and Lamar County lawmen, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) agents who followed one by one in separate vehicles, confirmed it.
And so ended the relatively short life of Lori Williams, better known as “Lori Bugg” to friends and family. But the journey of discovering exactly how the Lamar County nurse came to her tragic end in an isolated thicket of woods miles from home is just beginning, investigators say.
Monroe County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Lawson Bittick was just moments behind the procession, temporarily on foot. Stopping to answer questions for members of Williams’ family and reporters staked out at the scene, Bittick confirmed that Williams, who had been reported missing by family members on May 3, was deceased. But the manner of her death remains a mystery and cannot yet be ruled a homicide, suicide or even natural causes.
“It’s a strange one,” Bittick said.
Aerial searchers spotted Lori Williams’ remains about 3 p.m. Monday beside Tobler Creek on a tract of privately owned property. Helicopter searchers had located her car about a half-mile away from where her body was found the day before.
When she was located, Williams was wearing pink scrubs, Bittick said, and she was lying face-up beside the creek. Her phone was found at the scene and she bore no visible signs to immediately indicate the cause of death. Only an autopsy will be able to determine what killed her, lawmen say.
Family members on the scene Monday said Williams was last known to speak to her husband Robby Williams on Tuesday, May 2. She called him and told him she was running out of gas and pulling off I-75 at Bolingbroke to find a station, they said. The call dropped, they added, and that was the last time “Lori Bugg” was seen or heard from by anyone who appears to have known and loved her.
Investigators pinged her iPad on Wednesday, and got a hit in Bolingbroke. They focused their search for her in the area for days before any sign of her popped up. Williams’ car was found more than a mile and half inland off Klopfer Road, which appears to have been accessed by an unmarked road located in the 800 block, lawmen say. The road is easily more than a mile away from two gas stations.
Mr. and Mrs. Williams had yet to celebrate their one-year anniversary, and the Lamar County man was not on site Monday at the scene. In numerous Facebook posts over the past week, however, Mr. Williams posted pictures and pleas for information about his missing bride, as well as photos of the silver 2013 Nissan Maxima she’d acquired less than a month ago. The Lamar County man also reportedly told deputies his wife was “slurring her words” during the call on Tuesday. Sgt. Bittick says no drug paraphernalia was found at the scene.
Until final autopsy and toxicology results are in, Bittick added, nothing can be ruled out or even in as to how Williams died, let alone how she met her end smack dab in the middle of nowhere.
Along with outpourings of sympathy, shock and loss on the Williams’ individual Facebook pages, Lori William’s profile picture is a tragic reminder of another painful loss the family has recently endured. The wife and mother updated the image on March 20 to that of her 21-year-old son, William Zachary Bryan Chambers. He had died the day before in car crash that also injured her youngest son. According to posts on her page, Williams had only recently returned to work after the loss of her son, telling friends in her comments that it was “hard,” but expressing love to each and thanking them for their continued prayers and support.