January 15, 2023 | By: River Dodd
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and the University of North Florida’s Applied Journalism class.
Hilton and Jeannette Turner were known for the love they had for their community, their family, and each other. “They were really helpful people,” said their son, Hilton Turner Jr. “If you needed something and they were able, they would actually give you the shirt off their back.”
That love was stolen from the Turner family and the world February 17, 2021, when the couple, who had been married for 55 years, were found murdered in their lifelong home in Augusta, Georgia. What was a normal February day for their family became one marked by tragedy. The identity of their killer is still unknown.
Hilton and Jeannette both grew up and spent their lives in Augusta. Hilton enjoyed a skilled trades career spanning 42 years with expertise in everything from HVAC and plumbing to electrical work and flooring. Jeannette spent nearly 30 years in healthcare – first as an EKG technician, then rounded out her career in echocardiography.
The couple attended Lucy C. Laney High School together and got married in 1965. “When my mom said, ‘my husband,’ everybody knew Hilton was Jeannette’s husband,” said their daughter, Belinda Baker.
Hilton and Jeannette did not just love each other, they also deeply cherished the family they created, including their son, Hilton Jr., their daughter, Belinda; a nephew whom they raised Corey Cooper, grandchildren, great grand-children other nieces and nephews.
“They were the first people I knew to have a king-sized bed. We all felt like we could fit together on the bed and have that special camaraderie together,” said Jeannette’s niece, Chiquita Miller.
Many of their family members inherited treasured gifts from the Turners. In 1976, Hilton gifted his son a $600 trumpet that allowed him to become a section leader in his high school band. “I came into the kitchen and there was a brand-new trumpet on the table. I got really good at it,” said Hilton Jr. “In fact, I was the trumpet section leader throughout high school.” In today’s current value, that trumpet would now be worth around $3,000.
Once Jeannette was older and could no longer decorate her home for Christmas, she gave her decorations to Chiquita allowing her to establish a tradition with her daughter. The mother and daughter decorate with them every year to remember Hilton and Jeannette.
“Each time I put them up, I think about her and Uncle Hilton. I think about us driving past their house and the music always playing; the holidays were always so touching,” said Chiquita.
“Everybody who knew them, whether you were a son, daughter, niece, nephew, whatever. They provided the same love to everyone under their wing,” said Belinda.
Their presence is still felt by loved ones every day. “She is here spiritually; she is there when you walk, you’ll feel her. Papa too,” said their nephew, Corey Cooper.
When a love is so powerful it transcends past anything physical, it can often be felt forever. “She taught me everything I know about being a woman, even being a mom. The way she was with us, I try to be that for my daughters,” said Belinda. “My parents even taught us how to be married.”
Reports state there is a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. Anyone with information on Hilton Sr. and Jeannette’s case is asked to contact the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at 706-821-1000 or submit a confidential crime time by completing the form on their website.
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