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GBI task force formed to investigate Georgia church murders after claims of new DNA evidence

The Swains were shot to death inside a small African American church along Highway 17 in 1985. New evidence may suggest that investigators have the wrong man.

For nearly 20 years, the church murders of Harold and Thelma Swain have remained closed with a man named Dennis Perry behind bars for the crime.

Now, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation says it's forming a task force to take a second look after new information has surfaced.

The Swains were shot to death inside a small African American church along Highway 17 in Waverly, Georgia in 1985. A white man reportedly came inside during a missionary meeting and started shooting.

Perry was arrested in 2000 despite no physical evidence linking him to the scene and the state building its case largely around the testimony of a now-deceased Camden County woman. His family believes his arrest was politically motivated.

RELATED: GBI reopens 1985 double murder at Camden County church

Last month, Perry's legal team and the Georgia Innocence Project said new DNA evidence proves he is not the killer and urged the Brunswick DA to take a second look at the case.

On May 13, 2020, the GBI and the Camden County Sheriff’s Office reopened the case at the request of District Attorney Jackie Johnson. The GBI says it will reexamine the investigation and evidence in the case to determine the significance of the DNA findings.

This week, a GBI task force was formed to continue digging into the case.

If you have any information that can help investigators the GBI is asking you call them at 1-800-597-TIPS (8477).

RELATED: With new DNA evidence, family of man convicted of church murders calls for Brunswick DA to 'do the right thing'

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