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Jacobs gets life for nursing home murder, district attorney provides disturbing case details

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James Jacobs DouglasNow.com file photo James Jacobs

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James Robert Jacobs, charged with the 2014 murder of nursing home patient Alexander Hunter, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison plus 10 years to serve on a charge of concealing a death. Both sentences will run concurrently.

Assistant District Attorney Ian Sansot provided the following statement which gives detailed information surrounding this disturbing incident that has haunted the Coffee County community for over two years:

"This case began when Detective Jamie Hersey of the Coffee County Sheriff's Office received information that Mr. Hunter was buried in the shed at the personal care home, Rosewood Manor.  This personal care home was operated by Jacobs' wife and co-defendant, Diana Jacobs.  Upon executing a search warrant, a body was indeed found and was later positively identified as Alex Hunter.  Based upon medical evidence, it appeared that Mr. Hunter had been dead for approximately six months.

Further investigation by Detective Hersey and Chad Lott, of the GBI, showed that the Jacobs family continued using Mr. Hunter's Social Security debit card after his death, although the money does not appear to have been the motive behind this sordid affair.

Both Diana and James were interviewed by Hersey and Lott and both eventually admitted to their parts in concealing Mr. Hunter's death. Both claimed that, for a time, Mr. Hunter resided with James and their two sons at a residence on Raven Lane.  At some point, Mr. Hunter's health began deteriorating, so he was brought back to Rosewood Manor to be under Diana's care, although they both admitted that they never sought appropriate medical care for Mr. Hunter.  Shortly thereafter, they claimed, Mr. Hunter died of natural causes.  So, they put Mr. Hunter in a wheelchair and took him to the shed where Diana buried him. Both claimed that the reason for the concealment was being "scared."

They admitted that they continued to cover up wrong decision after wrong decision.

Months after the arrests, Diana and James' sons contacted law enforcement.  They told Investigator Hersey that, one morning, while Mr. Hunter resided with them on Raven Lane, they found Mr. Hunter with some injury to the side of his head and blood on his shirt.  Mr. Hunter never told them how he received his injuries and it was after this morning that his health began to decline.

They also told Hersey, that one night, after having a few drinks, James admitted to them that he had killed Mr. Hunter.  He told the boys that he went over to Rosewood Manor one night and Mr. Hunter was "practically dead."  He then took a pillow and smothered him.  It was at this point that he wheeled Mr. Hunter to the shed where Diana buried him.

District Attorney George Barnhill thanks the tireless work of Investigators Jamie Hersey and Chad Lott, Sheriff Doyle Wooten and the Coffee County Sheriff's Office, the GBI, and all other officers and witnesses involved in bringing this case to an end.

'Most cases have more work to do after an arrest,' Barnhill stated, 'but this is one of the heaviest investigations after an arrest I've seen.  Without those pushing the case behind the scenes, we may never have known what happened to Mr. Hunter.  It's also a shame how little oversight and accountability there is in our state for personal care homes.  I hope our legislature takes a serious look into this issue.'

Both the boys and Diana were subpoenaed to testify against James at his trial.  However, on the day of jury selection, James pled guilty.  Based upon all of the evidence and these convictions, charges against the Jacobs' son Coy are being dismissed.  Charges against Diana's mother, Helen Malphus, relating to documents submitted to the Department of Community Health, are still pending."

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