Former prosecutor Nancy Grace has assembled a team of crime scene investigators, forensic experts, and legal analysts to join together in an attempt to solve a 35-year-old cold case surrounding the murder of a 13-year-old boy shot after buying bubblegum in what Grace and the mother believe was an abduction attempt turned deadly.
On February 17, 1986, in Warner Robins, Georgia, 13-year-old Chuck Mauk had finished dinner and wanted to go buy some candy at a nearby 7-Eleven.
“I was just cleaning up the supper dishes,” Cathy Miller told Nancy Grace during an interview on Fox Nation’s Crime Stories. “He [Chuckie] just came in and asked if he could go to 7-Eleven because he would buy candy to sell the next day at school at break. He just thought he was making himself a little spending money.”
Chuckie was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed seventh-grader who was popular, and had the highest batting average on his Little League baseball team, where he played shortstop.
With his mother’s permission, Chuckie hopped on his bike and rode over to 7-Eleven.
Thirty minutes later, Miller received a knock on the door. It was another neighborhood boy, who informed her that Chuckie was over at 7-Eleven and had been hurt.
Miller rushed over and found her son on the ground. The shot had killed him instantly.
“I could see him lying on his stomach and I could see the blood,” Miller recalled. “He was so still. And I knew, I just knew it. And it just felt like I couldn’t get to him fast enough.”
Dead on the ground, Chuckie was still gripping the bubblegum that he had purchased from the store, including the receipt.
“He was shot in the back with the head,” investigative reporter Levi Page recalls.
Witnesses told authorities and reporters that they saw Chuckie speaking to someone who is driving a light-colored car in the moments before he was killed. Some witnesses said they may have been speaking for as long as 20 minutes.
“Two people saw him talking to someone in a white car,” Miller remembered. “These two people were children and they were in a car driving on the road next to the parking lot.”
Local news also reported that witnesses claimed to have heard a gunshot, which some mistook for fireworks.
“They gave a composite sketch of the person they saw,” Miller said of the witnesses. “And they said to their dad, ‘There’s Chuck.’ So they did see him. And he was just holding onto his bike, leaning, talking to someone.”
What caused the case to go cold so quickly was the lack of physical evidence. The only physical evidence was Chuckie leaning against the car, and it had sped away after the shooting.
Miller believes her son knew the killer. ”He wouldn’t talk to strangers for this long.”
“I’ve always thought that either one or two white males tried to lure him into that car,” Nancy Grace suggested.
“That’s always what I thought,” Miller agreed. “Because Chuckie had no enemies. He wasn’t a bad kid. He was good. Everyone loved him. And I think someone wanted him in that car and he wouldn’t get in it.”
“I think they knew that he knew them,” Miller continued. “And Chuckie probably said, ‘I’m going home. I’m going to tell my mom and my dad.’ And they did want him to tell. And they shut him up.”
A forensic investigator said findings indicate that the fatal bullet traveled on an upward trajectory.
The individual never got out of the car, so they fired literally from below to above. And this is key,” said Joseph Scott Morgan, a famed scholar of applied forensics at Jacksonville State University. “He [Chuckie is] literally turning his entire body and the bike…he is trying to get back home. He’s headed in that direction.”
“Something occurred where he wants to put distance between himself and the vehicle,” Morgan continued. “He wants to go to the safety of home.”
“It was at that moment in time that this person in the vehicle felt so comfortable in a public environment that they would fire a round out of their vehicle and strike Chuckie,” Morgan added.
Nancy Grace believes the theory held by Chuckie’s mom Cathy Miller that her son may have been shot while attempting to get away from someone that was trying to abduct him, in an attempt by the perpetrators to avoid being identified.
Her team is working hard to solve this 35-year-old cold case.
The police have little to go on, and are still trying to identify the man who sped away in a white car, possibly an Oldsmobile Cutlass or a Buick, after shooting Chuck Mauk in the back of the head in 1986.
Those with any potential information are urged to call the Houston County Sheriff’s tip line at 478-542-2080