When two brothers arrange a date with women they met online, things quickly go from bad to worse. How did it all go wrong?
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- Butler v. Georgia :: 2021 :: Supreme Court of Georgia Decisions
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Welcome back to Bite-Sized Crime. As you can probably tell, I have lost my voice again, but I was determined to deliver an episode this week, so hopefully my vocal fry won’t be too distracting. This week I’m bringing you a case of deception and an online date that went very wrong.
On the evening of August 31, 2016, 23-year-old Jordan Collins and his 24-year-old brother Chad were staying at their sister’s house in the Stoneleigh neighborhood of Lithonia, Georgia. Franchesca had asked them to babysit her three children while she was out of town.
A little after midnight, Jordan and Chad invited two women over to the house. The brothers had been communicating with 24-year-old Clarissa McGhee and 21-year-old Nashea Poole on the dating site Plenty of Fish. Jordan and Chad thought they all could hang out at the house while the children slept upstairs.
But when Clarissa and Nashea arrived, they acted oddly. They were intentionally vague when the brothers asked questions about them, particularly when Chad asked where they lived. They roamed around the house and tried to go upstairs before the brothers stopped them, not wanting to wake the children. They repeatedly asked about the dog in the backyard and the layout of the house. The women were also texting on their phones the entire time, not really engaging with Jordan and Chad.
After about an hour of this strange behavior, the brothers were getting frustrated. They decided that Jordan would just take the women back to his house and Chad would stay with the kids. But when Jordan followed the women out the back door, chaos erupted.
Chad heard the screen door slam shut, followed by what he could only describe as a commotion. He heard Jordan say, “chill out” to someone, and then, a gunshot.
Chad immediately ran outside, only to find his brother lying on the patio with a bullet wound in his back. Before he could do anything to help Jordan, Chad himself was shot multiple times. He managed to get up and make his way to the garage, where he found Clarissa. He shouted at her and tried to chase her, but she pointed a gun at him, forcing him to retreat as she fled the scene.
By the time emergency personnel reached the home, Jordan had died from his wounds. Chad was rushed to the hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries – he had been shot five times, but thankfully the bullets had missed important arteries.
DeKalb County Police began their investigation right away, piecing together the events of the night as best they could. Chad told detectives what he remembered, including what little he knew of the women who had been at the house. He indicated that the women must have brought their own guns, since he and Jordan didn’t have any weapons on them that night, and Franchesca didn’t keep any guns in the house. Detectives pulled Chad and Jordan’s cell phone records to try and gain additional insight, but nothing was adding up. Why would the women agree to a date with Chad and Jordan only to turn around and shoot them? If their motive was robbery, why was nothing taken from the house?
Jordan’s autopsy revealed that he had been shot by both a handgun and a shotgun, a finding that was corroborated by the recovered shell casings at the scene. Two guns implied the presence of two shooters – had both Clarissa and Nashea brought weapons with them? And if they had, how had they managed to conceal them from Jordan and Chad?
As the investigation went on, Jordan Collins was laid to rest. Franchesca and Chad were adjusting to life without their brother. Franchesca told a local news outlet, “We’re all still coping with this devastating loss… We just want justice for Jordan, because he didn’t deserve it. We want justice for Chad, because he was only going out to help his brother who somebody shot for no reason… If anybody wanted anything from Jordan, they could have just asked. He would have given it to them, anyway. Because that’s the kind of person he was.”
Finally, on September 17th, police announced the arrests of four individuals in connection with the crime: Clarissa McGhee, Nashea Poole, Antonio Avery, and Demarco Butler. All four were charged with murder and aggravated assault.
In May of 2018, almost two full years after Jordan’s death, the case went to trial. Clarissa McGhee took a deal, pleading guilty to aggravated assault in exchange for testifying against her three co-conspirators. During her testimony, the full story came out, and her version was even more twisted than anyone had imagined.
In July of 2016, Nashea had introduced Clarissa to Antonio Avery and Demarco Butler, who were high-ranking members of the Luciano Bloods, a subset of the notorious Bloods gang known for its track record of violent crime. Clarissa soon began dating Avery, which led to her joining the gang. Nashea was already a member, and she got Clarissa set up on Plenty of Fish. The gang often used the dating platform to facilitate “escorting,” which Clarissa described to the jury as “basically like prostitution”. It was the main source of income for the gang, as it was often used to lure men for the purpose of robbing them.
On the evening of August 31st, Clarissa and Nashea had arranged to meet an escorting client, but when they arrived at the location, they became uncomfortable with the situation and left. They met up with Butler and Avery at a local gas station and showed them a picture of Jordan Collins, who they had been chatting with on Plenty of Fish. Avery gave Clarissa a gun, then the women drove to Lithonia to meet Jordan and Chad, Butler and Avery following behind them.
Clarissa testified that she and Nashea had been inside the home when the dog suddenly began barking in the backyard. Jordan and Nashea stepped outside to see what was going on, and shots rang out. Chad ran outside, and Clarissa retreated into the garage. When Chad confronted her, she pulled out her gun and he backed off. She then ran outside, jumped into her car with Nashea, and drove off. She testified that Avery was standing in the yard with a gun, but she didn’t see Butler. According to Clarissa, the four of them met back up at Butler’s house, where she saw two guns, one of which was a shotgun. When she demanded to know what had happened, Butler allegedly responded, “He tried to grab the gun and got shot.” Avery warned Clarissa not to call the police, or she would be the one who got blamed for everything.
The defense hypothesized that Avery shot Jordan and Chad in self-defense, that he and Butler had come to the home to protect Clarissa and Nashea. But the fact that Jordan and Chad had no weapons and that Avery and Butler were on someone else’s property did not help their case. And cell phone records proved that all four co-conspirators were together before, during, and after the crime was committed, and they were in constant communication throughout, showing a level of planning that did not lend itself to a self-defense argument.
Ultimately, Nashea Poole, Antonio Avery, and Demarco Butler were found guilty of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, multiple weapons charges, and violation of the Georgia Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. All three were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Clarissa McGhee’s sentence was sealed as a part of her plea agreement.
In March of 2021, Butler and Avery appealed their convictions on the grounds of insufficient evidence and the admittance of testimony related to their gang affiliations. The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s decision in both cases.
Today, the Collins family continues to remember Jordan as the special person he was. Franchesca spoke fondly of her brother, saying, “Jordan was a kind-hearted, good-spirited person. He would help anybody if he could, never did anything to hurt anybody, for sure. He was definitely somebody I leaned on and depended on.”
Jordan’s life was taken far too soon, and Chad’s life was irrevocably changed. The two brothers were victims of a scam, a twisted plot that ended in tragedy. Although Jordan and Chad are not to blame at all, I can’t help but wonder if things could have gone differently. If you’re engaged in online dating or communicating with anyone over the internet, I encourage you to be cautious. Meet in a public place, tell a friend what you’re planning and where you’re going, and most importantly, trust your instincts. I’ve linked to some online safety tips in the show notes, so please check those out. Stay safe, and I’ll see you next week.