When the Hollimans did not attend church Sunday morning as usual with their adult grandson, the folks at Zion Baptist Church grew concerned.
Reginald Beckham, the Hollimans’ longtime Wolfe Street neighbor, said a pastor from Zion Baptist stopped by to check on them Sunday after church. There was no response to knocks on the door at their 2220 Wolfe St. home, and it began to dawn on Beckham that he had not seen anyone next door since Friday.
Brunswick police were called and arrived at 1:13 p.m. to discover a tragedy. Carson Holliman, 64, his wife Vondell Holliman, 63, and their 24-year-old grandson, Christopher Holliman, all were found dead inside — victims of homicide, say police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
“They usually go to church on Sunday morning,” said Beckham, 45, who said he has lived next door to the Hollimans for two decades. “The preacher came by and asked, had I seen Mr. and Mrs. Holliman this morning. I said, no. He was worried because they didn’t show up for church.”
The bodies have been taken to the GBI Crime Lab in Savannah for autopsy, said Stacy Carson, Special Agent in Charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Kingsland Office. She would not comment on how they were killed or on a possible motive, citing the ongoing investigation. She also would not speculate on when they were killed.
“We’re working this as a homicide investigation at this point,” Carson said. “We’re in the early stages of this, trying to check all avenues and leads. And there is nothing more we can release at this time.”
A Deacon at Zion Baptist, 1611 G St., confirmed that the Hollimans were regular church members and much loved. The deacon would not comment further and Zion Baptist Pastor Craig Campbell could not be reached Monday.
Despite struggling with autism, Christopher Holliman had earned a culinary arts degree from Coastal Pines Technical College, said his step sister Jasmine Young. He worked at the Winn Dixie on Altama Avenue, Young said. Christopher Holliman loved gospel music, and enjoyed playing the drums, she said. His upbeat attitude was contagious.
“He was a church person, loved church,” said Young, 21, of Macon. “And he loved playing the drums. Music was his passion. He was a loving, caring sweet person. Always happy. Never sad. He always spoke encouraging words to you, no matter what.”
Young and Holliman have the same mother, Tradenia Hill of Macon. Holliman’s father is C.J. Young, a pastor in Atlanta and the son of Carson and Vonda Holliman, said Beckham. Young worked at Winn Dixie on Friday, said two co-workers.
The Hollimans’ well-kept residence sits amid a stretch of modest wood frame homes on small lots in the stretch of Wolfe Street between L and M streets. Only about 20 feet separates the wall of their home from the wall of Beckham’s home. Beckham said he last saw someone at the home Friday. Folks in the neighborhood are as tight-knit as their lots are close, he said.
Beckham said he was at home Saturday during the day, but did not see or hear anything unusual. He left home to catch a movie and shoot pool that night, returning home after midnight, he said.
Hubert Owens, who lives across the street from the Hollimans’ home, also did not notice anything unusual.
“Everybody knows everybody,” said Beckham. “If any strange faces showed up in the neighborhood, we would know.”
Beckham noticed Sunday morning that Carson Holliman did not step outside for his morning smoke. Later on, the pastor from church stopped by, Beckham said.
“When nobody was coming to the front door, I think that’s when we knew something wasn’t right,” said Beckham, 45.
Leaning against a fence along the front of his yard, Beckham shook his head and sighed.
“I just ain’t getting it,” he said. “They were such sweet people. I don’t see them harming nobody. I’ve been sleeping next door, not knowing that my neighbors were dead. Been here all this time, my friends I’ve known for years. Man, that’s crazy.”