Mother grateful for help in wake of son’s death

HOSCHTON — While most of Pam Tolbert’s children know her as "momma," to her son, John Richard Nash, she was always "mother."

"I didn’t think a thing in the world about it when he was living, but now that he’s gone..." she said.

Nash, 24, was found dead on Sept. 24 along McEver Lane, a road located off Ga. 124 in Hoschton near Maddox Road.

On Sept. 20, Tolbert reported her son missing to the Hoschton Police Department. Four days later, the department and several other area law enforcement agencies launched a massive ground search for Nash in the Ga. 124 and Maddox Road area.

Just two hours into the search, Nash’s body was found by Cinco, a K-9 Search and Rescue dog, in a wooded area dense with underbrush.

Since his body was found outside Hoschton’s jurisdiction, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office are now conducting the investigation.

The time and date of Nash’s death still has not been determined, but Jim Fullington, special agent in charge of the Athens GBI office, said Nash had been dead several days before searchers located him.

The cause of death is also still pending, awaiting further crime lab tests that could take a few more weeks to return, Fullington said.

Right now, authorities are not saying whether foul play was involved. "We’re just saying that the investigation is still open," Fullington said.

Despite the uncertainty, Nash’s mother is hopeful her son, whom she described as being the "sweetest and (most) tender and humblest" person, found peace in the remaining moments of his life.

"I can live with the hope that with him having a repent(ing) heart and him having had salvation that (in) the last few minutes of his life, God gave him time to pray and to make things right," she said. "I really, really am hanging onto that hope that he did get that last little window of opportunity."

Tolbert said throughout the entire ordeal, the support of the Hoschton community and Hoschton Police Department has been overwhelming.

Some people brought food, others offered prayers and one anonymous person bought two burial plots, one for Nash and one for his mother, so that she can be buried next to her son one day.

After an arrest a year ago for a minor offense, Tolbert said the police department had tried to help Nash straighten his life out.

"If I could describe the love and concern that Chief (Jeremy) Howell gave to John, I would say (it would be) that of a father towards an only son," she wrote in a statement. "If I could describe the love and concern that Capt. (William) Simmons gave to John, I would say that of a big brother towards an always loved little brother."

In a news release issued Sept. 24, Howell also commended Nash for his love for Hoschton.

"John was a true friend of the Hoschton Police Department and truly cared about the quality of life of those that lived on West Jefferson Street. His efforts to make life better for those that live in this area of Hoschton will not be soon forgotten."

A memorial service for Nash was held on Sept. 28 at Zion Baptist Church in Braselton. Nash’s mother said she wanted to thank the Rev. Mike Phillips for having the service as well as the more than 200 people she said attended the ceremony.

This turnout, she believes, is a testament of how much people cared for her son. It was also a "great strength," she said, to have that kind of support during "such a tragic shock and tragedy."

Still, the realization that she will never see, speak to or even hug her son again remains a difficult truth to accept.

"I wake up every morning knowing I’ve got to go through another day without him," she said. "And I’ve got to live the rest of my life without him."

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