On the Case: UWG Alumni Hold Rank at GBIShare this page
Four University of West Georgia alumni have, beyond a shadow of a doubt, superbly represented the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as their careers continue to unfurl. Their induction to the GBI exemplifies the change that every UWG student can catalyze. Their motive: To create a better world for students and citizens alike.
UWG invested time and effort into these students and aided them in pursuing their path to make a difference in Georgia. UWG’s guidance, coupled with unrelenting dedication from the alumni when they were students, led to the influential individuals who contribute to the GBI’s workforce today.
Kim Sutton Jewett ’08
Promoted to assistant manager of trace evidence
A biology major, the field of forensics never entered Jewett’s mind until she saw the GBI job description. Then it clicked. Using scientific techniques, she could find an unknown substance, discover what it is and what it has the ability to do – whether it’s present in the human body or something found at a crime scene.
A Carrollton native, Jewett recalls a last-minute choice to attend UWG “one of the best decisions of my life.”
“The professors are what made UWG worth it,” she explained. “They took time and effort to ensure I understood what we were learning. They also invested in my well-being, attempting to mold me into a well-rounded person and instilling in me that science is a job that can be used to help people.”
With the scientific foundation to ground her – like how to handle chemicals and biohazards – Jewett began her 13-year career with the GBI. Her most impactful experience was a hair case that had a homicide suspect but no DNA profile. She’d already spent countless hours looking through clothing and various objects but found nothing that would hold up in court. As a last effort, Jewett examined the victim’s body bag and found a single hair that matched the suspect, who then pleaded guilty to murder.
“That case has been a reminder throughout my career to not give up and give each case my all,” she shared.
As assistant manager of trace evidence, Jewett aids investigators and district attorneys in submitting evidence as well as what tests can be performed on evidence collected in relation to a crime, such as hair, fracture match and gunshot primer analysis.
Christina Kanner ’09
Promoted to assistant special agent in charge
As a working teenager, Kanner became acquainted with local police officers, hearing about how they helped the community. It gave her a glimpse of the future she desired – one of meaning and purpose. When it came time to enroll at UWG, criminology seemed a natural fit.
“The classes provided a great foundation for a multitude of different options within criminal justice,” Kanner recalled. “They were also challenging and required a lot of time management skills that built a solid work ethic.”
An internship with the UWG Police Department allowed her to place her lessons in action and experienced firsthand the career in which she’d soon be immersed.
Kanner’s first job was with the Douglasville Police Department as a patrol officer. While there, she was encouraged by her sergeant, who knew of her aspirations to become a detective, to apply with the GBI, which she did in 2012.
With more than a decade’s tenure at GBI, Kanner has been assigned to many cases, but one sticks out to her especially. As a field agent/crime scene specialist, she was part of the investigation involving Timothy Coggins, a young man who was murdered in Spalding County in 1983. The case remained unsolved for years until 2016 when the case was officially reopened. In 2017 – more than 30 years later – arrests were made and convictions were obtained at trial.
“To be a part of this investigation shows that having time and putting forth effort can produce closure and justice for families,” Kanner said. “Even when the case is cold.”
Today, as assistant special agent in charge, Kanner is responsible for the supervision of employees within the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). The unit encompasses criminal election-related and public corruption investigations and the newly formed cold case unit.
Klay Kilcrease ’99
Promoted to special agent in charge
Not many 10-year-olds think about college. But for young Kilcrease, watching the U.S. Secret Service at the presidential inauguration led to a discussion about earning a degree in criminology. Years later, after receiving an associate’s degree in criminal justice, Kilcrease enrolled at UWG.
“Upon starting UWG, I quickly realized I’d made the right decision,” he said. “The classes were smaller, and the professors were accessible and actually cared if you succeeded. As a result of their guidance, I received an internship with the GBI’s State Drug Task Force. That exposure was the largest factor in showing me the field in which I could excel and eventually influence future generations of investigators.”
Kilcrease began his career as a correctional officer with the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office in 2000. He returned to the GBI a few months later, working in the same unit he completed his internship. In his 23-year career with the agency, he has spent all but eight months working in narcotics and gang investigations.
A memorable case for Kilcrease involved an armed robbery of a pharmacy warehouse where 10,000 pills were stolen. One of the suspects was identified, and Kilcrease met him in a covert capacity and gathered enough evidence to obtain a search warrant. As a result, 90 percent of the drugs were recovered and the gang member received a long prison sentence.
“This case occurred when the opioid epidemic was starting to peak, and our team was able to find these dangerous pills before they were distributed on the streets,” he recalled. “The citizens of Georgia deserve to feel safe in their communities, and the GBI works hard to ensure that occurs.”
In his new role, Kilcrease supervises staff within the Middle Georgia Gang Task Force, which conducts investigations involving criminal street gangs, drugs, and gun violence.
Justin McAllister ’12
Promoted to assistant special agent in charge
McAllister knew from an early age two things: he wanted to be in law enforcement and he wanted to Go West. His dad – who he called his greatest role model – worked for the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. In 10th grade, he attended a football camp at UWG and his older brother had a great experience, as well.
“UWG provided me with a very diverse experience, where I was able to connect with people from different backgrounds,” said McAllister, who was especially active in UWG’s African American Male Initiative. “A big part of what I do daily is interacting with and being able to relate to different kinds of people. Being able to learn and grow in the environment that UWG prepared me for has gone very well for my career.”
After graduation, McAllister was hired at the Newton County Sheriff’s Office as a detention deputy in 2013. In 2014, he joined the GBI and served as a special agent in multiple units for almost a decade.
The most impactful case for McAllister was his first homicide investigation, in which a mother of four was killed by her ex-husband, who was eventually convicted of murder. What struck him most of all was the family of the victim – how important she was to her family and how much she was loved.
“This helped affirm how important it was to do my job correctly to obtain justice for the family,” he explained. “There was nothing that could bring this mother back to her children, but being able to hold the person who took her away accountable was very career affirming.”
In his new role, McAllister will assist with the supervision of special agents and others within OSI, a unit responsible for criminal election and public corruption investigations and the cold case unit.