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Couple’s families struggle to cope with slayings

Authorities mum on motive

POSTED: December 30, 2009 4:00 a.m.

Services were held earlier this week for the Effingham County couple shot to death near the Amicalola River in Dawson County on Dec. 19.


The bodies of Paul and Jennifer Budrawich were found about one day and several hundred yards apart in the river.


The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office has charged Jennifer Budrawich’s stepfather, Jessie James Kilgore, with murder in the deaths of the southeast Georgia couple.


Kilgore’s nephew, Benjamin Kelly Mullinax of Dawsonville, also has been arrested and charged with murder.


Both are being held without bond at the Dawson County Detention Center, awaiting Jan. 19 hearings in Superior Court.


Authorities are releasing few details, including a motive, about the case.


Kilgore also has a bond revocation hearing set for Jan. 6 in Superior Court. He was out on a $35,000 property bond from a theft arrest in May.


According to the bail order, Kilgore posed “no threat or danger to any person, to the community or to any property in this community.”


Authorities have not said if they believe the two cases or an additional theft report filed in Dawson County by Paul Budrawich in November are related.


The couple planned to visit their three sons over the weekend.


The get-together was supposed to be their last before reclaiming custody, according to a family member.


Paul and Jennifer Budrawich left their McCall Road home on Dec. 18 en route to Dawsonville and Jasper to visit the children.


Kilgore is the father of one of Jennifer Budrawich’s sons, and the Budrawiches have two boys.


“They were good people,” said Debra Harris, Paul Budrawich’s sister. “They made a mistake, but they loved their children and were getting them back. The children don’t understand, they’re very young.”


The deaths have been especially hard on the family.


Harris said her mother is very upset and her uncle had to be taken to the hospital after suffering a heart attack due to the stress of the situation.


“The children were their life,” Harris said. “They fought for the life of their children — even in their last moments, because that’s how much they loved each other. We were the only family she had [in southeast Georgia.]


“The family is having a hard time. They really need to find peace. I want everyone to remember my brother and his wife for who they were. Every breath they took was for their children. They were so excited to be getting those kids back.”


A memorial service was held Saturday for Jennifer Budrawich at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Dawsonville.


Paul Budrawich’s funeral was Monday in Guyton. The family is asking for donations for the funeral and for their three sons. The couple did not have insurance.


A fund has been set up at BB&T.


Authorities found the couple’s bodies a day after receiving a frantic 911 call from a woman saying she was going to be shot.


The call was from Jennifer Budrawich. A woman’s voice could be heard asking someone, “Why are you shooting us? Why did you bring me down here to the river?”


Harris is grateful for the call.


“I just thank God the 911 call was made,” she said. “At least they can go home.”


Rick Lott with the Effingham Herald contributed to this report.


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