WARNER ROBINS, HOUSTON COUNTY (CBS46) – Chuck Mauk was a fun-loving teen, who could pop some of the longest wheelies in his neighborhood.
“Chuck was one of the bravest kids I ever met on a BMX bike,” said his best friend, Jason Cranford. “He would jump any ramp and do any trick, and so I always tried to be like him.”
That innocence was shattered in February 1986, when Mauk was shot in the back of the head, riding his bike home from a corner store in his Warner Robins neighborhood.
“It was my first experience with death,” said Cranford, also 13 at the time. “I really didn’t understand how real it was until we all went to the funeral and saw them lower the coffin.”
Despite witnesses and a few leads, the case grew cold.
Now, 34 years later, CSI Atlanta is partnering with Cranford to heat Mauk’s cold case back up.
“It’s really troubling that this person is still walking around because I imagine that they have done something else to another child after that and got away with it,” he said.
Cranford contacted the CSI Atlanta team – and is offering a $100,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of Mauk’s killer.
The pair became fast friends in the third grade at Russell Elementary School in Warner Robins.
Around 8 p.m. that night, Mauk was riding his bike home after stopping by the corner store to buy gum.
“He would go to the store to buy bubble gum at night time, and then the next day he sell it to all of us at school for more than what he paid for, so he was a smart kid,” Cranford said.
Witnesses told police, right before the shooting, Mauk was in a parking lot, sitting on his bike talking to a man believed to be in his 20s, in a white Buick. Gunshots were heard, and witnesses said the car was seen speeding away from the parking lot.
Mauk was found in a pool of blood, a pack of bubble gum in his hand.
“The rules changed in the neighborhood, after that,” Cranford said. “Kids weren’t allowed to be on bikes after dark.”
Over the years, Cranford has hired private detectives to stay on the case but still arrests have been made.
Cranford, who now lives in Colorado, said Mauk’s mom, Cathy Miller, deserves justice for her son.
“I used to play in Cathy Miller’s house, stay in her garage running through her house, and tearing up stuff. And so you know, there’s an old emotional attachment there. And so it’s worth it to me. I would love to see her get some resolutions in her lifetime,” he said.
The substantial reward will be paid out within 30 days following a conviction.
Please e-mail any tips or information to CSIATLANTA@cbs46.com.