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Relief but anguish over arrest in Heidt case
sheriff mcduffie 1
Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie announces deputies and GBI agents arrested Craig Heidt around 8:45 Friday morning. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

Friends of Philip Heidt were glad that an arrest in his killing and in the shooting death of his son Carey — but their relief is tinged with sadness with the news that another family member stands accused of the crime.

Early Friday morning, Effingham County Sheriff’s deputies and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Craig Heidt, the 41-year-old son of Philip and Linda Heidt and Carey’s older brother. Craig Heidt has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of aggravated battery in the attack that occurred in the wee hours of Aug. 25, 2008.

“It’s very sad to think that someone within the family has done this,” said Gussie Nease. “I’m just glad that they’re finally bringing some closure to it. I know it’s a long way from going to court. I think it’s just somewhat relieving to know that someone is off the street. But it’s also very sad.”

Law enforcement officials have released few details of the killings and did not offer many details of the investigation or arrest at a news conference Friday at the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office. Flanked by several Effingham County Sheriff’s investigators and a host of Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents at a brief news conference Friday, Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said they weren’t going to answer a lot of questions but did say that Craig Heidt had been arrested Friday at 8:45 a.m. He is being held in the Effingham County Jail.

“We just have to change gears now,” McDuffie said. “Now comes the judicial process.”

Philip Heidt was a well-known and widely-respected real estate broker. His son Carey was in the real estate business with him. Sometime around 3 a.m. on Aug. 25, 2008, both men were shot and killed at Philip Heidt’s home on Springfield-Egypt Road. His wife Linda, badly wounded in the incident, managed to call 911.

Yet authorities have not made much else about the incident or investigation known since then. The probe has been a painstaking one, they said, involving the questioning of more than 100 people as agents and investigators criss-crossed the state and the Southeast tracking down Philip Heidt’s many business dealings.

“We all wanted it done the next day,” said Ruth Lee. “I think we have to have an appreciation for the sheriff’s office and the GBI and they took their time. They seemed to have taken the time and apparently have done the investigation they needed to do.”

Linda Heidt’s condition also has been guarded. Lee said it is her understanding that Linda Heidt has had a number of surgeries and could face several more.

“The community has been very protective of her,” Lee said. “Our hearts go out to her.”

Both Lee and Nease expressed the frustration of the community over the last nine months but were hopeful that the investigation has been thorough.

“I was truly relieved that they were finally making progress,” Nease said. “I was so afraid they were going to let it go, that it wasn’t going to be solved. I didn’t ever want Philip to be forgotten and I certainly didn’t want Carey to be forgotten. And I want some closure for the family.”

Said Lee: “The community has been concerned about this. It’s a horrific thing. It’s beyond belief.”

Philip Heidt had been a past president of the Effingham Chamber of Commerce, a life member of the Savannah Board of Realtors and was on the board of directors of the Citizens Bank of Effingham. He also operated a farm that had been in his family for five generations.

Lee called Philip Heidt “a mover and shaker” in Effingham’s growth.

“His dealings in real estate were far and wide,” she said. “There are very few big businesses that have come to Rincon that Philip didn’t have some influence in.”

ECSO spokesman David Ehsanipoor said the investigation is still ongoing.