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Man Charged in 1985 Bush-Ax Killings of Wife and Children

A northwest Georgia man has been charged with killing his pregnant wife and his two young children with a bush-ax 24 years ago in a case a detective never gave up trying to solve, authorities said Wednesday.

Michael Curry, 51, of Dalton, was charged in a Muscogee County grand jury indictment with murder, aggravated assault and feticide and was jailed. He's accused of killing 24-year-old Ann Curry, their 4-year-old daughter, Erika, and 20-month-old son, Ryan, on Aug. 29, 1985, in Columbus.

Curry ran to a neighbor's house screaming, "They killed my wife and kids! Why did they kill my wife and kids?" shortly after arriving home from work that afternoon. He was questioned but never charged.

District Attorney Julia Slater praised Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren for his perseverance in investigating the bush-ax slayings. A bush-ax is a 10-pound tool with a curved blade used to clear heavy brush.

"Chief Boren not only worked the case as a detective in 1985, but empowered detective Randy Long to explore this cold case, discover new information and prepare it for presentation to the grand jury," Slater said in a statement.

She did not disclose the nature of the new information, but said she and other officials would answer questions at a news conference Thursday.

Jail officials did not know if Curry had an attorney.

The day of the killings, police found a bush-ax in the den, where Curry's wife and son were found hacked to death. She had been nearly decapitated and bruises on her arms showed she had tried to block the blows.

The girl was found in the kitchen, where the blade had crashed on her head and across her mouth, breaking her teeth.

Frank Martin, an attorney hired by Curry's family, advised him not to talk to police after an initial interview the night after the killings. The lawyer asked for a tape of the first interview, but police refused.

During a coroner's inquest in 1986, Curry testified he had been threatened by the husband of a co-worker with whom he'd had a three-week affair. The man denied Curry's accusations.

Neighbors reported seeing a green car parked in front of the Curry house the day of the killings, but couldn't say if it was Curry's.

His wife's parents, James and Bernice Johnson, organized a local chapter of the victims' advocacy group VOCAL. They hired an attorney and fought his collecting life insurance.

A reward fund for information on the killer or killers swelled to $35,000. No one collected.