Marcellus McCluster (Georgia Department of Corrections)

CHATTAHOOCHEE COUNTY, GA (WRBL) – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has announced charges in the cold case murder of a Fort Benning soldier in 1982.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, GBI officials said Marcellus McCluster, 64, is being charged in the murder of René Dawn Blackmore.

Blackmore was stationed at as an Army Private on Fort Benning at the time of her death, she disappeared after leaving the barracks on the night of April 29, 1982.

McCluster is being indicted with one count of malice murder and four counts of felony murder for the death of Blackmore. He is currently serving time for a 1983 murder that happened in Stewart County, Georgia.

Blackmore’s wallet and sweater were found on the side of a road in Cusseta, Georgia, nearly a month after her disappearance. It wasn’t until June 28, 1982, when her remains were found off a logging road where authorities say she was killed.

Authorities with the GBI spoke about Blackmore’s death in the news conference, highlighting the upcoming 40th anniversary of her disappearance.

“We know that she would have been 59 years old if she could have been with us today. But we don’t know who she might have loved, what relationships she might have built, what dreams she might have realized. All of those things got extinguished by a blast from a cheap shotgun about two miles from the middle of nowhere down in south Chattahoochee County,” said Assistant District Attorney of the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Kim Schwartz.

Rene Dawn Blackmore (Georgia Bureau of Investigation)

Blackmore’s mother Donna Reitman released the following statement:

“Even after 40 years, I don’t feel emotionally able to answer media questions, but have prepared this statement for them.

“I would like to express my appreciation to the GBI Cold Case Unit for their dedication and determination to find, prove, and finally see charged, the man who murdered my daughter.

“René did not live to see her 21st birthday, which would have been May 5th. She was killed on April 29th, and this year marks the 40th anniversary of her death. René was a focused young woman; not always serious — she loved laughing and having fun with friends.  When she was 12, one of her friends was killed by a drunk driver, which prompted her to write her own will.  In it, she expressed the desire for her ashes to be scattered in the nearest woods, because she was very much an outdoor girl.  She loved hiking and camping and hunting , and just looking at a star-filled sky.  She felt she had found her niche in her high school ROTC program, and by her senior year, commanded the unit.

“I have lived these 40 years always feeling the pain her absence causes, and believing no one outside of her family and friends even cared.  It is with a grateful heart that on March 28th, 2022, this belief was shown to be untrue.  These detectives of GBI Cold Case unit had spent the past 18 months working to solve her case, because they, too, cared, and believed Rene’ deserved justice.

“Nothing can give René back to me, but I do find solace in learning these men cared enough to search out that justice.

“Thank you.”