The Atlanta Police Department has released a series of surveillance photos of people who were in or near Piedmont Park on the night Katherine Janness and her dog Bowie were brutally stabbed to death.
Police said those pictured are not suspects, but who might have seen or heard something related to the incident, which occurred just after midnight on July 28. Janness’s longterm partner, Emma Clark, discovered the bodies after she pinged Janness’ phone when she didn’t return from walking Bowie.
“Investigators are hoping these individuals may have seen something that could help forward their investigation and they are asking for assistance identifying or contacting them,” APD Public Affairs Officer Sgt. John Chaffee said. “If anyone was in the area around the time of the murder, or if anyone knows someone in these photos, we ask that they contact Atlanta Police Homicide Investigators or Crime Stoppers.”
During a Tuesday morning press briefing, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called the murders “horrific,” but dispelled rumors circulating on social media that a serial killer was on the loose in the city or that it was a hate crime directed at the LGBTQ+ community. She also called out the media for using unnamed sources and reporting false information on the case.
“Be responsible in what is being reported, because false information is being spread,” Bottoms said. “It is not helpful to the investigation and makes it more difficult and time consuming. It also feeds a narrative that won’t help us get this monster off the street.”
Police Chief Rodney Bryant said it was his decision to call in the FBI on the case. “This homicide was outside the norm of what we would typically see,” Bryant said. “This was so unique we needed to collaborate with as many resources we can”
Deputy Chief Charles Hampton described Janness, 40, as a talented songwriter and advocate for social justice. She was also a familiar face to patrons who frequented Campagnolo restaurant, where she worked as a bartender. He said the officers assigned to the case are “working around the clock” to bring Janness and Bowie’s killer to justice.
Hampton reiterated the call for the public to come forward with any information – no matter how insignificant it might seem. “Do you know anyone with unexplained injuries? Who have made changes in their appearance? Have they missed school? If you were near the park that night, did you notice a suspicious vehicle, bike or scooter? Nothing is too incidental.”
APD is working with vendors of nine cameras located inside Piedmont Park to try and extract more footage, but acknowledged that the 13-year-old cameras use obsolete technology and are not part of the city’s video integration center.
Bottoms said the city plans to install 250 more surveillance cameras by the end of the year, but wouldn’t commit to new cameras inside Piedmont Park yet.
“The vast majority of parks in Atlanta don’t have cameras in them,” Bottoms said, noting there hasn’t been a murder in Piedmont Park in more than a decade. “We don’t want to make knee jerk reactions. We have to consider the entire city and look at crime stats.”
The reward for information into the brutal murder of Janness and Bowie has been doubled to $20,000 thanks to an offering by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Anyone who might have information is encouraged to call 911, Crime Stoppers at (404) 577- 8477 or the APD homicide unit at (404) 546-4236.