Police retesting evidence, reinterviewing people in gruesome 2003 double murder

Unsolved murder case reopened in Roswell

ROSWELL, Ga. — A double murder case is getting a fresh set of eyes after going unsolved for 17 years.

Simon Scates and Gretchen Hardister were killed inside a Roswell home in 2003. To this day, police have made no arrests.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne learned that a couple of Roswell police crime scene experts have sent some of the evidence from the case to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for retesting, as family members began urging police to find answers.

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Simon Scates' daughter Reid sent a letter last month to police and to Winne, asking them to refocus their attention on the unsolved double homicide.

Simon Scates, who was a co-owner of a hair salon, was stabbed 47 times. Gretchen Hardister’s presence inside Simon Scates' house remains unexplained.

“It’s just very disturbing on how someone could do that over and over and over again,” Jenia scates, Simon’s wife, said. “I can remember it as if it was yesterday.”

In the email, Reid Scates said she was five years old at the time of the killings. She is now 23, and sister Olivia Scates is now 29.

“It’s extremely important to me to have justice,” Olivia Scates said. “For 17 years, there has never been an answer.”

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“Our worlds were never the same. That feeling of being stagnant while the world rushes by you,” Reid Scates said, reading her email. “Almost as if you are drowning but instead of having it be over in a few minutes, it is never really over.”

She told Winne that she hopes renewed efforts will help the case.

“We feel this every single day,” Reid Scates said. “You can’t walk away from it. You can’t escape it. It happened to us.”

Officer Sean Thompson with the Roswell Police Department said the department has assigned one of its best detectives to the case. So far, detectives are reinterviewing people, having old evidence retested. They now have persons of interest they have identified in the case.

“There’s a few things in play that I’m not sure the investigators want to reveal,” Thompson told Winne. “Anything that we can get, that we may have missed at the time, we’re relooking at all of that.”

Lane Hardister said her younger sister Gretchen had an IQ off the scales. She had a Masters degree in electrical computer engineering and a sensitive job for a major defense contractor.

But Gretchen’s husband was killed at age 26 in a crash along Interstate 20. Broken by his loss, Gretchen descended into mental illness and wound up homeless by the time her life was snuffed out.

“What happened in your heart?” Winne asked Lane Hardister.

“It was like a giant hole,” Hardister said.

Hardister told Winne that she prays new crime technology will help answer how Gretchen died.

“I just feel like whoever did this should pay some consequences,” Hardister said.

Thompson said anyone now willing to come forward with information in the case should contact Roswell police and ask for Detective Dewayne Gooden. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477.

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