Christy Lea Cuzzort Stephens, 13, was an eighth-grader at Summerville Middle School in Summerville, Georgia. Her family described her as a “normal child,” a “very strong, very independent person,” and protective of her loved ones.
So, it baffled the community when an unidentified person murdered Christy.
On Oct. 1, 1990, Christy stayed home from school because she was not feeling well, complaining of a sore throat.
Around 7 a.m., her father, Thomas Cuzzort, left to take Christy’s grandmother to work. When he returned home, she was gone, and he reported her missing to the local authorities. Meanwhile, Christy’s younger sister asked a teacher who was also a school bus driver if he had seen Christy that morning while driving his route, but he never saw her.
Investigators found a pair of Christy’s athletic shoes in the family’s driveway. After reading some of Christy’s letters and interviewing her friends, they discovered she had been unhappy and talked of leaving home. Therefore, authorities initially believed she had run away.
Their theory was short-lived when Christy’s body was found in a ravine 300 feet off the road from where she and her family lived.
Then-Chattooga County Sheriff Gary McConnell said, “There’s no question it was foul play. She was completely covered with brush.” However, McConnell also said his department had no suspects or a motive in the killing.
Police officers conducted an extensive search of the area near Christy’s home. They focused the search on the east side of Taylor Ridge the first couple of days after the teen vanished. On Oct. 22, 1990, a Marietta hunter found Christy’s body off Farmersville Road, two miles from her home.
Due to decomposition, Georgia Bureau of Investigation pathologists could not determine the cause of death. But McConnell said he believed Christy was killed elsewhere and brought to the woods where the hunter found her.
Investigators never captured Christy’s killer, and there is very little information on her case. In 2009, GBI contacted Cuzzort and told him the agency would list Christy’s case on their website under “Unsolved Cases.” The Summerville News reported that Chattooga County Chief Sheriff’s Investigator Larry Kellett said the sheriff’s office still had some tissue swabs from Christy’s body. Kellett planned to attempt to get some DNA “if there is anything there,” he said.
“We’ve got some swabs and some slides. There were several that we are trying to get resubmitted to the crime lab for testing.”
I could find no further information on the DNA testing.
Cuzzort died in Alabama on April 23, 2009, two months after Kellett announced the testing. He was 56. It is unclear where Christy’s mother is or whether she was part of her life. There is a Facebook page set up, albeit inactive since 2021, and I think her sister ran it.
Anyone with information regarding Chisty’s murder can contact:
S/A Joe Montgomery
GBI Regional Office, Calhoun
132 Old Fairmount Hwy. S. E.
Calhoun, Georgia 30701
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
This case needs attention. I do not understand why there is so little info available. We have a child murdered, yet there is no activity in her case. So that leads us to start assuming things.
I believe Christy knew her killer, and there are at least two scenarios here:
- A family member killed her. Maybe they argued or whatnot. I want to lean toward her father because he and her grandmother were the last to see her alive. Cuzzort took the grandmother to work, then returned, and Christy was allegedly already gone. Her shoes were in the driveway; how did he not see them?
- Christy’s killer knew she stayed home from school and abducted her. This theory means that her father left the house at some point, and the killer took advantage of it. So, maybe a neighbor or fellow student.
I do not know what Cuzzort was like, but Christy was unhappy and wanted to leave home. Whoever killed her was familiar with the wooded area off Farmersville Road, so the killer points to a local. Her body was too decomposed for signs of sexual assault.
I’m confused as to why Christy went by Stephens. Is that her mother’s last name? Her surname is listed as Cuzzort in her father’s obituary.