EXCLUSIVE: Police used GBI database to identify suspect in Roswell teen murders

NORTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News has obtained newly-unsealed records in the case of two teens found murdered behind a Roswell grocery store.

The affidavits for two search warrants show how detectives were able to identify the suspect, Jeffrey Hazelwood, less than 48 hours after the crime.

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When Roswell police detectives first began tracking the man who they say killed Natalie Henderson and Carter Davis, they started with surveillance video from the Publix parking lot. %

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They knew what the suspect looked like, but they needed a name.

They could tell that his SUV was either silver or white, and that it was a 1998 or 1999 Honda Passport or Isuzu Rodeo.

They turned to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for something called an "offline search."

"It is a tool that has been used for years. It works really well from the standpoint when you have not really much to go on, to isolate basically geographically, or if you can narrow down to year or models of vehicles, it'll help," said Agent Scott Dutton, GBI spokesman.

Dutton says the GBI assists local agencies with offline searches regularly, and the analysts are on call 24 hours a day to help when cases are urgent.

According to two search warrant affidavits, Roswell detectives contacted the GBI to request a list of every single vehicle fitting that description in Fulton and Cobb counties.

There were roughly 650 of them.

"It takes good detective work, so a lot of it is process of elimination, looking at the data a little bit further," said Dutton, adding that the GBI analysts have a good working relationship with Roswell Police.

Then it was up to the detectives to go through the list, prioritize the leads, and track down their suspect.

"It takes dedication, patience, and persistence to make that happen," said Dutton.

They looked at who those vehicles belonged to, their family members, and prior calls to their addresses.

Detectives honed in on Jeffrey Hazelwood, and according to the warrant documents, when they saw his driver's license picture, they thought it matched that of the man in the surveillance video.

When they found his SUV at his girlfriend's parents' house, detectives saw guns, a mask, and specific details that matched the SUV in the surveillance video.

"In cases I've been involved with where you've identified pieces of evidence that are tying your case together, it's a great feeling. You're making headway in a case that can be very difficult to solve," said Dutton, adding that the GBI was glad to assist.

Detectives used the search methods and other investigative details to get search warrants for the girlfriend's parents’ house, and Hazelwood's SUV.

They have not yet filed the paperwork showing what they took in those searches.