As family and friends plan a candlelight vigil tonight at Wade-Walker Park and prepare to bury Paul Sampleton, Jr., a freshman from Grayson High School, police say the investigation into the killer or killers of the 14-year-old is ongoing.
Cpl. Jake Smith, public information officer for Gwinnett County Police Department, said that whether the teens shoes played a role in his death is one scenario that is being considered. Smith said if anyone has any information that might be helpful to the investigation, they would like to hear it.
"We are looking into that angle, among other things," Smith said. "I can only say that the investigation is ongoing at this point. We'll always accept tips from the public at 770-513-5300."
In the meantime, according to the Facebook page, RIP Paul Sampleton, a candlelight vigil in his honor will be held at Wade-Walker Park, 5585 Rockbridge Road in Stone Mountain, at 7:30 p.m. this evening. Friends and family members have posted messages on the page mourning the loss of the young life and expressing shock that something like sneakers could have resulted in such a senseless act.
WSBTV first reported that friends of the teen believe the murder could have been over shoes. Sampleton was reported to have an extensive shoe collection and frequented a Facebook site called ATATF - ADDICTED TO ALL THINGS FRESH. The site is a swap and sell high-priced items, including shoes. Information from the initial incident report obtained by several media outlets claim that the body of the teen was found "on the floor of the kitchen just inside of the interior garage door," and that the teen possibly had been tied up or restrained. Sampleton's body was found by his father Wednesday afternoon in his Grayson home. The students were on early release because Dec. 19 was the last day of school before the winter break. Sampleton's father came home at about 2:30 p.m. and called police when he found his son.
David Hopson, the principal of GHS, notified parents and students of Sampleton's death on the website and the school was opened Thursday to offer counseling to any students who might need it.
Patch blogger Jason Brooks is a youth pastor in the Loganville/Grayson area. In a blog titled "Sometimes you just need to listen," Brooks said his phone blew up when the news of Sampleton's murder got out.
"I've worked with teenagers for over 13 years now, and if I've learned anything it's that whenever something happens to one of their own, teens take it very hard," Brooks wrote. "There is an internalization of tragedy that the teenage years magnifies by a thousand, and the need to explore that internal struggle is vast and immediate. So that's why my phone blew up yesterday afternoon. Lots of people needing someone to talk to. Or, more accurately, someone to listen."
Brooks said in a situation like this when a classmate is murdered, and perhaps over something as trivial as shoes, the best anyone can do is let them talk and just listen.
"And not just the way we sometimes do, where we nod our head and say 'Uh-huh' a lot while waiting for a break in the monologue during which we will impart our vast, adult wisdom. I mean really listening. Because when you listen, you hear some amazing things," Brooks said.
According to the Facebook page, Sampleton's memorial service will be at 6 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2012 at Levetts Funeral Home in Gwinnett. His funeral will be on Friday, Dec. 28, 2012 at Hosley Temple in Macon. It asks that wishes and blessings be sent to 68 Chadwick Drive Macon, GA. 31210, c/o Frances Byrd.