GBI: Correctional officer charged with murder after ‘fight game’ inside youth detention center

WARE COUNTY, Ga. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has arrested a correctional officer they say violated his oath of office.

Thomas Lee Hicks, 30, of Waycross has been arrested and charged with second degree murder, two counts of second degree cruelty to children and one count of violation of oath of office after investigators learned he allowed juvenile inmates to participate in a fight game in his presence.

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Earlier this month, authorities responded to the Waycross Regional Youth Detention Center after learning that a child was found unresponsive at 9 a.m. that morning.

Initial reports said the child was around peers and a staff member when he lost consciousness. The child was transported to Memorial Health Hospital in Savannah for treatment where he later died, GBI officials said.


Tyrone Oliver, Commissioner of The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice released the following statement to Channel 2 Action News:

The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is deeply saddened by the passing of one of our youths. We send our heartfelt condolence to the youth’s family, friends, and loved ones, and they remain in our thoughts and prayers. Upon learning this afternoon of the findings of the GBI investigation, I immediately terminated Mr. Thomas Hicks from employment with the Department. The actions of Mr. Hicks are deplorable and do not represent the core values of this agency.

DJJ takes the responsibility of operating safe facilities for youth and staff seriously. Should there be any evidence of staff or youth misconduct or criminal activity, we will take all appropriate measures.”

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Hicks was arrested on Tuesday and booked into the Ware County Jail.